Korean wave

  (Redirected from Korean Wave)

The Korean wave or K wave (Korean한류; Hanja韓流; RRHallyu; MRHallyu, audio speaker iconlisten , a neologism, literally meaning "wave/flow of Korea") is the increase in global popularity of South Korean culture since the 1990s.[1][2][3] First driven by the spread of K-dramas and K-pop across East, Southeast and South Asia during its initial stages, the Korean Wave evolved from a regional development into a global phenomenon, carried by the Internet and social media and the proliferation of K-pop music videos on YouTube.[4][5][6][7][8] While some sources attribute the term Hallyu, a variation of a Japanese expression using Ryu (流) as a postfix to refer ‘~way’, ‘~style’, ‘~group’,[9] to being first used by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in South Korea in 1999, when the ministry produced a music CD titled in Chinese 韓流—Song from Korea; other scholarly sources attribute the term's ascendance from Korean television dramas first airing on Chinese television in 1997, naming the phenomenon hanliu (simplified Chinese: 韩流; traditional Chinese: 韓流; pinyin: Hánliú), meaning "Korean wave".[10] The term was adopted by Chinese media to refer to the success of South Korean popular culture in China.[11] The term was reintroduced in Japan as hanryu or kanryu by the Asahi Shimbun in 2001.[12] These two words, hallyu and Korean wave, were officially included in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2021.[13]

Since the turn of the 21st century, South Korea has emerged as a major exporter of popular culture and tourism, aspects which have become a significant part of its burgeoning economy. The growing popularity of Korean pop culture in the world was at least partly driven by the South Korean government supporting its creative industries through subsidies and funding for start-ups, as a form of soft power with the goal of becoming a leading global exporter of culture in line with Japanese and British culture, a niche that the United States has dominated for nearly a century. In 2014, the South Korean government allocated 1% of its annual budget to cultural industries and raised a $1 billion fund to nurture popular culture.[14][15]

The success of the Korean wave is also due to the development of social networking services and online video sharing platforms, which have allowed the Korean entertainment industry to reach a sizable overseas audience since the 2000s. Korean dramas enjoy widespread availability via streaming services which often offer subtitles in multiple languages. Many K-dramas have been adapted throughout the world, achieving notable popularity in some countries. K-dramas have attracted attention for their fashion, style and culture all over the world.[15][16]

The Korean wave has become an influential global phenomenon since the start of the 21st century, heavily impacting the contemporary cultures, music industry, film industry, television industry, and behavioral aspects of various people throughout the world.[17][18][19][20][21] As of the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020, the Korean wave is led by K-pop with stand-out acts such as BTS and Blackpink followed by K-dramas.[22]

As the popularity of K-pop songs such as "Gangnam Style", "Butter", "Boy with Luv", and Korean dramas Moon Embracing the Sun, Squid Game[23] and Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha[24] accomplished international success, South Korea is now recognized as a hub of both economic and soft power akin to many Western countries with few parallels, especially for a non-Western nation.[25][26][27] The South Korean mass media and entertainment industry has caught up with English-speaking Western countries in terms of production value, technology and talent.[28]


The Korean term for the phenomenon of the Korean Wave is Hanryu (Hangul: 한류), more commonly romanized as Hallyu. The term is made of two root words: han (한/韓) meaning "Korean", and ryu (류/流) meaning "flow" or "wave",[29] and referring to the diffusion of Korean culture.

This term is sometimes applied differently outside of Korea; for example, overseas, Hallyu drama refers to Korean drama in general, but in Korea, Hallyu drama and Korean drama are taken to mean slightly different things. According to researcher Jeongmee Kim, the term Hallyu refers only to dramas that have gained success overseas, or feature actors that are internationally recognised.[30]

Korean Cabbage Kimchi; a staple of Korean cuisine

The Korean wave encompasses the global awareness of different aspects of South Korean culture including film and television (particularly "K-dramas"), K-pop, manhwa, the Korean language, and Korean cuisine. American political scientist Joseph Nye defines the Korean wave as "the growing popularity of all things Korean, from fashion and film to music and cuisine."[31]

With BTS breaking Guinness World records by hitting billions of views on YouTube and multiple record chart to Hybe Corporation, formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment acquiring Ithaca Holdings of Scooter Braun in 2021. Korean Wave is now turning itself as a power player in global entertainment industry and international soft power arena. It is one of the few successful phenomenon from Asia that is able to break into American mainstream entertainment that was till now mostly dominated by domestic, British and European brands. As per an Iranian-American expert on global geopolitical risk and geo-economics Afshin Molavi, the global pop culture once dominated by the West is now more globalized.[32][33][34] According to cultural historian and writer Paula Lee, historically it is unusual for a nation which is not the central power in geopolitics to export culture only based on its own strength.[35]

The soft power of Korean wave is able to break racial prejudice and fulfil the missing representation of Asians in western media. People from East and Southeast Asia are able to see the remarkable success achieved by K-pop idols as their own.[36]

As per World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Innovation Index 2021, K-pop became one of the cornerstone of creativity in South Korea.[37]

During a 2021 conference on South Korea's Soft Power organized by Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), acknowledging the Korean Wave Joseph Nye said, "even though there is no country has been more successful than South Korea over the past 60 years, so many Koreans think they are weak and lagging behind. That affects their optimism and creativity".[38][39] After winning American Music Awards of 2021 Artist of the Year by BTS, Moon Jae-in said, “Korean culture is dominating the world and it is boosting the country’s national status and diplomacy."[40]

According to Ramon Pacheco Pardo who is Professor of International Relations at King's College London, large number of Korean travellers and expatriates community abroad influenced the development of universal Korean content that helped it crack the Western market after 2010's. Korean artists also bypassed the traditional media channels by extensive use of social media and YouTube to reach global audience. The content creators perfected the art of mixing foreign and domestic elements with slick production value. Since South Korea is a highly developed democratic country, the society also mirrors other developed nations which increased the aspirational value.[41]

As per music critic Kim Young-dae:

In the past, the Korean Wave was just a regional phenomenon in some geographically and culturally adjacent Asian countries, but now, it is a global phenomenon happening with no particular pattern and in countries with no similar culture background like the United States, Kazakhstan and Indonesia, At first glance, what we see now appears to be the peak of Korean content. But considering various circumstances, there are big chances for it to grow bigger.[42]

Professor Kang Yoo-jung of Kangnam University said:

European countries initially ignored the popularity of Korean culture, labeling BTS as part of teen culture, but professional critics in the region have just begun to analyze the phenomenon, trying to understand why many of the world's fresh stories are coming from South Korea. If BTS opened the way for Korean pop music, we can say director Bong Joon-ho's film Parasite helped to put other fields of Korean culture on firm footing and that now is the beginning of the heyday for the culture as the online streaming service itself is still an unknown area.[43]



An early mention of Korean culture as a form of soft power can be found in the writings of Kim Gu, leader of the Korean independence movement and president of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. Towards the end of his autobiography, he wrote the following:

... I want our nation to be the most beautiful in the world. By this I do not mean the most powerful nation. Because I have felt the pain of being invaded by another nation, I do not want my nation to invade others. It is sufficient that our wealth makes our lives abundant; it is sufficient that our strength is able to prevent foreign invasions. The only thing that I desire in infinite quantity is the power of a noble culture. This is because the power of culture both makes us happy and gives happiness to others....

— Kim Gu, Baekbeomilji (excerpt from March 1st, 1948)

1950–1995: Foundations of cultural industryEdit

In 1961, which was after the Korean War (1950–53) and the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement, South Korea's economy began to fully recover from the war and experienced a period of rapid economic growth known as the Miracle on the Han River.[44]

In the film industry, screen quotas were introduced in South Korea during Park Chung-hee's presidency, restricting the number of foreign films shown in cinemas.[45] These were intended to prevent competition between domestic films and foreign blockbuster movies.[46] However, in 1986, the Motion Pictures Exporters Association of America filed a complaint to the United States Senate regarding the regulations imposed by the South Korean government,[47] which was compelled to lift the restrictions. In 1988, Twentieth Century Fox became the first American film studio to set up a distribution office in South Korea, followed by Warner Brothers (1989), Columbia (1990), and Walt Disney (1993).[48] By 1994, Hollywood's share of the South Korean movie market had reached a peak of around 80 percent, and the local film industry's share fell to a low of 15.9 percent.[49] That year, president Kim Young-sam was advised to provide support and subsidies to Korean media production, as part of the country's export strategy.[50] According to South Korean media, the former president was urged to take note of how total revenues generated by Hollywood's Jurassic Park had surpassed the sale of 1.5 million Hyundai automobiles; with the latter a source of national pride, this comparison reportedly influenced the government's shift of focus towards culture as an exportable industry.[51] At this time, the South Korean Ministry of Culture set up a cultural industry bureau to develop its media sector, and many investors were encouraged to expand into film and media. Thus, by the end of 1995 the foundation was laid for the rise of Korean culture.[51]

1995–1999: Development of cultural industryEdit

In July 1997, the Asian financial crisis led to heavy losses in the manufacturing sector, prompting a handful of businesses to turn to the entertainment sector.[52]

According to The New York Times, South Korea began to lift restrictions on cultural imports from its former colonial ruler Japan in 1998. With an aim of tackling an impending "onslaught" of Japanese movies, anime, manga, and J-pop, the South Korean Ministry of Culture made a request for a substantial budget increase, which allowed the creation of 300 cultural industry departments in colleges and universities nationwide.[53]

In February 1999, the first local big-budget film, Shiri, was released and became a major commercial success. It grossed over US$11 million, surpassing the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic.[54][55]

1999–2010: Korean wave in Asian regionEdit

Around this time, several Korean television dramas were broadcast in China. On 19 November 1999, one of China's state-controlled daily newspapers, the Beijing Youth Daily, published an article acknowledging the "zeal of Chinese audiences for Korean TV dramas and pop songs".[56] In February 2000, S.M. Entertainment's boy-band H.O.T. became the first modern K-pop artist to give an overseas performance, with a sold-out concert in Beijing.[57] As the volume of Korean cultural imports rapidly increased, China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television responded with a decision to restrict and limit the number of Korean TV dramas shown to Chinese audiences.[58]

My Sassy Girl (2001) was a major international breakthrough for Korean films. It became a box office hit across East Asia, and its DVD release also drew a large cult following across Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia. It also spawned a number of international remakes, including a Hollywood remake and several Asian film remakes, as well as television adaptations and a sequel.[59][60]

However, several other countries in Asia were also experiencing a growth in the popularity of Korean dramas and pop songs. In 2000 in the Indian state of Manipur, where Bollywood movies were banned by separatists, consumers gradually turned their attention to Korean entertainment.[61] According to Agence France-Presse, Korean phrases were commonly heard in the schoolyards and street markets of Manipur.[62] Many Korean dramas and films were smuggled into Manipur from neighbouring Burma, in the form of CDs and DVDs.[61] Popularity in Korean products subsequently spread to other parts of Northeast India including Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Mizoram, and Nagaland.[63]

In 2002, following the reversal of a decades-long embargo on media between the two countries, BoA's album Listen to My Heart became the first album by a Korean musician to sell a million copies in Japan.[64][65] Following this success, other K-pop artists also ventured into the Japanese music industry as well.

On 8 June 2001, Shinhwa's fourth album Hey, Come On! was released to success over Asia. The group became particularly popular in China and Taiwan.

In 2002, Winter Sonata (produced by Korean channel KBS2) became the first drama to equal the success of the 2001 Taiwanese adaptation of the manga, Hana York Dango, called Meteor Garden. Winter Sonata attracted a cult following in Asia, and sales of merchandise, including DVD sets and novels, surpassed US$3.5 million in Japan.[66] This drama marked the initial entrance of the Korean Wave in Japan.[67][68][69][70][71] In 2004, former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi noted that the male protagonist of the drama was "more popular than I am in Japan".[72] Other Korean dramas released in subsequent years such as Dae Jang Geum (2003) and Full House (2004) saw comparable levels of success.[73]

Since 2002, television programming trends in Asia began to undergo changes as series from both South Korea and Taiwan began to fill prime time slots previously reserved for Hollywood movies.[74]

The breakthrough for K-pop came with the debuts of TVXQ (2003), SS501 (2005), Super Junior (2005), the early success of BIGBANG (2007–present), and other artists hailed by a BBC reporter as "household names in much of Asia."[75] In 2003, South Korean girl group Baby V.O.X. released a Chinese single entitled "I'm Still Loving You" and topped various music charts in China, making a huge fanbase there. Both "I'm Still Loving You" and their subsequent Korean single "What Should I Do" also charted in Thailand.

Aspects of traditional and contemporary Korean culture, clockwise from top left: a Samsung Galaxy Tab; women performing traditional dance Taepyeongmu; Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish; K-pop idol Junsu; the K-pop boyband Super Junior; children in traditional Hanbok costume

Meanwhile, the popularity of Korean television continued to spread across the continent. Reports about Asian women traveling to South Korea to find love inspired by Korean romance dramas began to appear in the media, including in the Washington Post.[76]

In Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka, Korean dramas began to increasingly take up airtime on TV channels in these countries with Winter Sonata and Full House credited to igniting the interest in Korean pop culture in these countries. Korean fashion and hairstyles became trendy amongst youth in Nepal and led to a Korean language course boom in the country which has persisted to today. Korean cuisine experienced a surge of popularity in Nepal with more Korean eateries opening in the country throughout the early to mid 2000s. Similarly, Korean cuisine also became popular in Sri Lanka and Bhutan with Korean restaurants opening to satisfy the demand in these countries.[77][78][79][80]

By the late 2000s, many Taiwanese musicians had been superseded by their K-pop counterparts, although a small number of groups such as F4 and Fahrenheit continued to maintain fan bases in Asia.

2010–present: Korean wave globallyEdit

K-pop songs being played by the South Korean conglomerate LG at the IFA trade exhibition in Germany in 2011

In the United States, Korean culture has spread outwards from Korean American communities, most notably those in Los Angeles and New York City.[81] The overall reception of Korean culture in the United States is rather lukewarm compared to that in Asia; Mnet Media said that its employees' attempt to pitch over 300 K-pop music videos to American producers and record labels was unsuccessful, there being "relationships so they would be courteous, but it was not a serious conversation."[82] Attempted US debuts by artists such as BoA and Se7en failed to gain traction, being labelled by a CNN reporter as "complete flops."[83]

Psy performs "Gangnam Style" in Sydney in 2013.

That said, Korean culture products (series such as Jumong being particularly well received by audiences in the Muslim world) have seen increasing popularity, with a dedicated and growing global fanbase,[84][85][86][87] particularly after Psy's video for "Gangnam Style" went viral in 2012–13 and was the first YouTube video to reach over a billion views.[88] YouTube has been a vital platform in the increasing international popularity of K-pop, overriding the reluctance of radio DJs to air foreign-language songs in reaching a global audience.[89] KCON, originally a one-day event dedicated to K-Pop in Irvine, California in 2012, has now expanded into eight countries spanning over multiple days and locations.[90][91]

K-pop fans outside the Korean Cultural Centre in Warsaw holding up a South Korean-Polish flag, as well as banners for Korean boybands MBLAQ, B1A4, and 2PM in 2011

The Korean wave has developed into the foreign diplomacy of South Korea, used as a means to promote Korean culture to foreign countries.[92] South Korea's Former President Park Geun-hye intended to allocate at least 2 percent of the national budget to further develop South Korea's cultural industry and to seek more cultural exchanges with North Korea.[93] Cuisine and cosmetic products are two of the most recognizable features of South Korean culture overseas.[94][95][96] Among the largest beauty companies in the Asia-Pacific region are Amorepacific and LG Household & Health Care.[97] The cultural boom has also propelled tourism growth, South Korea welcoming over 12 million visitors in 2013, with 6 million tourists from China alone.[98]

Korean skincare products have gained widespread popularity in Asia. Amorepacific and LG Household & Health Care have become the top two beauty companies in the Asia-Pacific region.[97] China has become the largest market for Korean cosmetics and account for 25% of China's cosmetic imports.[99] In Sri Lanka, European beauty products have largely been replaced in favour of Korean cosmetic and skincare products which have become popular because of their cheaper prices and their suitability for Asian skin.[100] Similarly, Korean products have become popular in Singapore because they meet the concerns of Asians and that they have been designed for Asian people.[101] The popularity of Kpop in Cambodia has also led to the influx of Korean beauty products into the Cambodian market.[102] Korean cosmetic and skincare products have also become popular in Thailand,[103] Malaysia,[104] and Japan[105] among other countries. Recent political issues between South Korea and China have led Amorepacific to look elsewhere and revamp its products to specifically target Muslim and darker-skinned women in Southeast Asia.[106] In 2017, Innisfree released a range of darker-toned cushions to match skin tones of Southeast Asian women.[107]

K-dramas and K-pop raised the awareness of Korean beauty products and brands which increased the demand among Indian women that lead to opening of many specialized e-commerce stores. As of 2020, Korean consumer labels are on high demand in India from food to cosmetics and toys apart from household electronics.[108][109] Indian music streaming services Gaana and JioSaavn confirmed increasing demand for K-pop. As per Spotify user streaming data, BTS is one of the Top 5 artist in India with a growing K-pop fan base that represent top 22% of the global listeners. Of all genre, K-pop has 25% share for newly discovered artist category among 18 to 24 years age group of listeners. Demand for K-pop lead to Spotify promoting diverse set of K-pop artist during World Music Day 2020 campaign apart from well known ones like BTS.[110][111][112][113]

As per Netflix streaming data for the year 2020 in Asia, Blackpink: Light Up the Sky became the most watched K-pop documentary in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand. In the Korean drama category, Kingdom (Season 2) was most watched in Hong Kong and Thailand. For audience in India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, it was The King: Eternal Monarch. Start-Up became the highest viewed in Indonesia, What's Wrong with Secretary Kim in Japan and It's Okay to Not Be Okay in Taiwan respectively. Korean zombie movie Alive became top horror title in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Korean travel documentary Twogether topped the list in reality TV show category around Thailand and Taiwan.[114][115] The strong global demand for wellness, health and beauty from Eastern cultures is one of the success factor influencing sales of Korean cosmetic brands.[116] The COVID-19 lockdown in India proved to be an inflection point in 2020 when Korean drama moved from a niche segment to mainstream due to over the top media services such as Netflix, Rakuten Viki and YouTube.[117]

Hallyu 2.0Edit

"Hallyu 2.0" is the "New Korean wave" that began around 2007 as a result of South Korea taking advantage of 21st century digital technologies and social media.[118] The term Hallyu 2.0 was first used in August 2010 by Japanese media after Girl's Generation's successful showcase at Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo. The concept of Hallyu 2.0 rose in tandem with Web 2.0, which emphasizes user generated content and usability.[119] Hallyu 2.0 is larger in scope than the first Korean wave, and is also differentiated by the increased role and popularity of Korean pop music and other Korean exports like video games and animation. This in contrast to the importance of the Korean television drama during the first wave that was more geographically focused in East Asia.[120] However, at the center of Hallyu 2.0 are the Social Networking Sites (SNS) and User-generated content (UGC) sites such as YouTube that enable fans across the world to interact with South Korean pop culture.[118] Overall, Hallyu 2.0 refers to different means (technology) to reach far beyond the Korean Peninsula and the continent of Asia.

The Korean Cultural Center with Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced first K-pop festival in India from 2012 that saw an initial participation of only 35 contestants that rose to 5,427 for both solo and team format in 2019.[121][122] Spotify became one of the major contributor of Hallyu movement in 2019 when it entered the Indian music streaming market. Songs of BTS started breaking local streaming records within 2019–20 period. As per Spotify data, BTS not only became the fifth most streamed artist but have the third most streamed album in the entire country.[123][124]

Government policy in Hallyu 2.0Edit

The success of South Korean cultural products throughout the beginning of the 21st century has led some governments in Asia passing measures to protect their own cultural industries. Japan, China, and Taiwan made specific efforts to stem the flow of Korean films and dramas into their countries, which caused those films and dramas to suffer in sales.[118] This necessitated Korea's finding new markets in which to export their cultural products. K-pop and Korean idols have been a core part of Hallyu 2.0 finding these new markets.[118]

Much Korean investment in arts and culture prior to 1993 focused on traditional forms of Korean culture that were essential to hold on to given the turbulence of the 20th century in Korean history.[118] After 1993, cultural commercialization became government policy as leaders saw the necessity of integrating culture and economy.[118] In 1999, the "Basic Law for Promoting Cultural Industries" was passed by the Korean government, establishing government support for "coproduction with foreign countries, marketing and advertising of Korean pop culture through broadcasting and the Internet, and the dissemination of domestic cultural products to foreign markets".[118] Establishing their clear and public support for cultural industries, however, caused antagonism in other Asian countries, which were, at the time, the primary market for Korea's cultural exports.[118] Therefore, indirect support had to be practiced. In 2008, the budget for the cultural industries sector increased, and the government introduced the "creative content industry", emphasizing K-pop and video games as important foreign exports.[118]

User-generated content/YouTubeEdit

Sun Lee, the head of music partnerships for Korea at YouTube, said, "It might have been impossible for K-pop to have worldwide popularity without YouTube's global platform"[125] Since 2012, views of the top 200 K-pop artists on YouTube have tripled. In 2016, 80% of the 24 billion views of videos by the top 200 K-pop artists came from outside of South Korea.[126] YouTube is essential to Hallyu 2.0, as it allows labels to deliver music videos and other K-pop related content to audiences abroad without going through television or other traditional media outlets.[125]

K-pop's relationship with YouTube began in 2009, when the "big three" record labels (SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment) partnered with the user-generated content site, after several failed attempts to break the American market between 2006 and 2008. This partnership proved itself effective in 2011, when YouTube metrics showed that the United States accounted for the heaviest concentration of K-pop views outside of Asia.[125]

YouTube has enabled fans to connect with K-pop through their own content, such as dance covers and reaction videos/channels.[127] Such channels include JREKML, a channel that has amassed over 1 million subscribers and consists mainly of K-pop reactions, skits, and vlogs. The creation of remakes helped "Gangnam Style" rise to world popularity. YouTube, and other social media platforms were instrumental as it allowed remakes to be created that adapted to the locality. This worked because it allowed the consumer to also become the producer, unlike before where adaptations to the local or regional culture would cost the original producer money.[128][129]

Hallyu 3.0Edit

Hallyu 3.0 refers to the "third generation" of the Korean wave, beginning in the mid-2010s.[130] In recent years, the impact and content associated with Hallyu has evolved across several platforms in more countries than previous eras, and with larger cultural and societal impact. The rise and spread of K-pop groups such as BTS and new YouTube content like Mukbang (먹방; meokbang) videos have become characteristic of Hallyu 3.0. Highly developed collaboration with musical artists and international media production with foreign studios such as Netflix have also facilitated a new rise in global Korean media consumption.[131] The growth of social media has also grown in ways different from previous years.[130] The massive expansion of various categories in YouTube and other social media content has increased Korea's penetration into more and more demographics. K-beauty, or Korean skincare and makeup, has become a massive part of the global market thanks to the rise of beauty influencers on social media and higher popularity of Korean dramas.[132] Netflix started taking more studio space in South Korea in view of growing global demand with an investment figure reaching $700 million from 2015 to 2020. Higher view counts are coming mainly from Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, UAE and USA for Netflix originals produced in South Korea.[133]

Hallyu 3.0 opened global market for South Korean studio such as Studio Dragon, part of CJ ENM (a subsidiary of CJ Group) to make content that resonate with large audience. This not only increased competition but also gave creative freedom which till now is somewhat restricted under the rating system of Korean Media Rating Board. It also made South Korean studios to open overseas office in USA and start collaborating with American companies such as Skydance Media, Universal Content Productions and Creative Artists Agency. With bigger budget, South Korean entertainment industry started shifting from small production houses to large studio system to manage the entire spectrum of content production.[134] In 2020, Crash Landing on You became a cultural phenomenon internationally leaving behind many domestic shows in viewership ranking and attracted large number of fans from various social backgrounds. Due to Crash Landing on You's rife popularity the Korean Wave spread across South Asia especially India.[135][136] As per data from Parrot Analytics, it garnered 1.4 times more viewership than an Indian drama within a month of its release in the country.[137] After Emperor of the Sea and Dae Jang Geum released in 2006, this was the second time a K-drama was received and appreciated so well by nationwide audience. The King: Eternal Monarch, It's Okay to Not Be Okay and Start-Up became the most binged K-drama of 2020 in India.[138][139] Kingdom became a huge hit that led to the release of second season in India by Netflix.[140] As per an Indian media content company Black Kettle Studio, Korean dramas received well among Indian women across age group most notably the working class due to strong female lead characters, fashion sense, quality execution, and emotional, supportive respectful men who also take grooming and self care seriously.[137][141] Year 2020 saw the consolidation of Korean wave in Indian entertainment market that is no longer viewed as fad.[142] The high emotional quotient of South Korean content instantly made connection with the Indian psyche.[143][144]

According to Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the foreign consumption of Korean content is steadily rising throughout 2020 in 18 countries namely China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Turkey, France and USA. The highest is in Korean drama category which stands at 29.7%, K-beauty at 27.5%, Korean variety shows at 26.9% and K-fashion at 24.8% respectively. After the COVID-19 pandemic, Korean variety shows picked up more interest among foreigners at 48%, 47.9% is for K-dramas and 45.8% for Korean games. BTS, Blackpink and Psy were the most popular in K-pop category outside of South Korea during the pandemic. The consumption of Korean content increased more through World Wide Web and mobile platforms as compared to cable television. Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will spend 4 billion won from 2021 to improve quality of translation both for dubbing and subtitles to make viewing experience of foreigners better.[145] To revive culture and tourism industries of South Korea after COVID-19 pandemic and expand Korean wave around the globe, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is giving out accommodation coupons worth 51.6 billion won to help push Korean content and language abroad by increasing the use of digital technologies. Another 26.5 billion won will be spent on developing events venue and production material for K-pop.[146]

In 2021, Netflix will spend $500 million on Korean movies and TV series as South Korea is the third largest market for the company based on sales figures. From 2015 to 2020, Netflix had already spent $700 million on Korean entertainment which include partnership with Studio Dragon and CJ Entertainment.[147][148] As per survey conducted by Free University of Berlin based Korea Europe Centre and Korea Development Institute (KDI) among Korean studies experts from 19 European countries in 2021, 70.6% respondents accept that Korean Wave is popular in their country while 94.1% believe that it will gain more importance in coming years. 85.3% of experts also pointed out the rising popularity among younger European population.[149] As per Steven Yeun of Minari which won the 78th Golden Globe Awards for Best Foreign Language Film in 2020, rise of Korean Wave is an important milestone in global entertainment because after a long period, popular culture from the East is able to compete on an equal footing with that of the West.[150]

With large number of Indians started consuming more Korean content on multiple platforms, domestic companies increased their investment budget and started signing memorandum of understanding with South Korean media giants such as Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS).[151][152][153] As per April 2021 data from Korean Cultural Centre in India, the Korean wave is now expanding from primary cultural content such as music, drama and movies to secondary concitent like food, beauty and fashion. South Korean singer and actress Jisoo of Blackpink became the first K-pop artist to feature on Elle India June 2021 cover. It was a collaborative effort between Dior, Lagardère Group and YG Entertainment.[154][155] From a subculture status with limited reach restricted to Northeast India, it is now slowly moving ahead to become part of influential mainstream popular culture.[156][157][158] Linked with the orient, people are easily able to connect and understand the societal relationship and nuances depicted in Korean dramas that somewhat mirrors their own. Discontentment with over dominance of western pop culture that is lacking diversity and representation from Asia is also encouraging people to search for an alternative.[159] Fans are finding South Korean artists more accessible, that is helping in familiarity and growing attachment factor. Due to Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures, most of the events were now shifted to digital medium that helped increasing views and connect more fans from smaller cities and towns. South Korean pop music, dramas and movies are major factors for the growing popularity of Korean beauty standards in India.[160][161][162]

Victoria and Albert Museum will conduct an exhibition from September 2022 to June 2023 which will showcase the unprecedented rise of Korean wave at a global stage.[163] To further grow Korean wave in India, InKo Centre is going to launch an online platform called Annyeong Station that will give local fans to discuss, interact on topics such as South Korean pop music, drama, fashion, food, cosmetics in a safer, friendly environment.[164] It will launch on 27 August 2021 with main focus in three segments that include guest conversation with Hallyu enthusiasts, interaction between Hallyu influencers with industry experts and course on informal Korean language.[165]

According to Netflix, viewership of Korean content grew 4 times in Asia and 3.7 times in India from 2019 to 2020. Shows like Squid Game, The King: Eternal Monarch, Kingdom, It's Okay to Not Be Okay, Sweet Home, Crash Landing on You and Space Sweepers topped their respective category. In South Korea, investment into Korean content brought 3.8 million customers on Netflix. In India, Netflix brought media rights for CJ E&M, Studio Dragon and JTBC content. According to Deloitte report, Netflix investment into Korean entertainment industry brought $4.7 billion of value to the South Korean GDP. This also increased the average revenue of Korean visual effects industry from ₩4 billion in 2010 to ₩10 billion in 2020. As per Netflix data, Korean content is now popular in 80 countries around the world.[166] In 2021, Asia Society honored Bela Bajaria, Destin Daniel Cretton and Lee Byung-hun for their contribution in entertainment industry from Asian region.[167][168][169]

With growing Korean wave, new age digital media startups are emerging in South Korea. As of 2021, South Korea is the world's fifth biggest digital media market after US, China, Japan, and the UK. With dedicated office like Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) to spread Korean cultural content throughout the world, Ministry of Science and ICT announced investment of $20 million into local digital content creation companies in 2020. Thailand, Philippines, India, Singapore, and Portugal are new emerging market for Korean content. Southeast Asia is the next big region for K-pop fandom. From $1.87 billion in 2004, Korean wave contributed $12.4 billion in 2019.[170] From 2010 to 2020, the Korean cultural exports increased by 12 times. In 2021, Hanryu Bank launched Korean Wave Promotion Association (KWPA) that will act as central platform for promotion, exchange and cooperation of hallyu with foreign cultures.[171] Companies such as Kakao Entertainment, Netmarble, Celltrion Entertainment are now investing heavily on cultural content. Exports of popular culture from South Korea surpassed other goods like agricultural products, cosmetics, household appliances and robots. CJ E&M is planning to invest ₩5 trillion ($4.2 billion) in domestic content production alone till 2026 and is buying stakes of SM Entertainment. Netmarble became the second biggest shareholder of Hybe Corporation. It also joined with the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the country Upbit to sell non-fungible token (NFT) related to BTS.[172][173]

The surge in demand for Korean content from India is now increasing competition between Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, two of the major streaming platforms in the country. Amazon Prime Video was the first to launch Parasite and Minari in India. Hotstar, MX Player, Viki and Viu are some other platforms riding the Korean wave bandwagon effect.[174] Discovery+ in collaboration with Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) started ‘Star vs Food’ series that bring K-Pop stars to introduce Korean cuisine to Indian households.[175]

In 2021, the popularity of the Netflix series Squid Game led to Halloween costumes based on the series being popular around the world. Hellbound later replaced Squid Game as the next top K-drama on Netflix. BTS won four Billboard Music Awards and three American Music Awards. They were also nominated for group performance in Grammy Awards. With over 200,000 American fans, BTS sold out four concerts at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles from November 27 to December 1, 2021.[176] Increasing investment from global streaming giants such as Apple TV+, Disney+ and Netflix provided the artistic freedom for Korean entertainment industry to make globally successful content.[177][178][179]

Senior Vice President of Content Business for CJ ENM Seo Jang-ho said, “Korean creators are always known for their creativity and this new success on a global level opens doors for them to try something new. I think they will have a better understanding of what works globally in a very short time.” As per Park Joon-suh who is the Director of Productions at JTBC Studios, the new generation of Korean content creators have excellent skills in dealing with various aspects of storytelling through webtoons, web novels and dramas. More direct partnership started happening among Korean and American content creators for non-Korean language international co-production and larger-scale Korean productions for international market.[180] Global success of Korean content sparked debate of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in South Korea.[181] The country became the content hub of Asia. As per Anupam Tripathi, with more Korean production crossing over internationally and increasing demand from global audience led to influx in foreign artists which made Korean entertainment industry the next Hollywood.[182] On a Zoom round table discussion for international media before the release of The Silent Sea, Gong Yoo termed the recent global surge of Korean content as good time for a working actor in South Korea, while Bae Doona credited over-the-top media service for taking Korean content at global stage.[183] During the second half of 2021, South Korea became the second largest contributor of content on Netflix other than the United States.[184] Netflix also invested $1 billion in Korean content till 2021, which is the largest outside of United States.[185] Success of Korean content in India and the US made Netflix plan local remakes and spin-offs based on Korean scripts taking into consideration local nuances.[186][187] But some even questioned and criticized this move as part of appropriating East Asian popular culture.[188] As per Max Michael of United Talent Agency (UTA), geopolitical ties with the United States and interest in Western entertainment fostered a better understanding among Koreans that helped South Korea blend Asian values with Western sesnsibilities, making content relatable for global audience.[189] Netflix announced, in 2022 it will release 25 Korean moves and series, which is the largest number of in-house production till date from South Korea.[190]

K-pop in Hallyu 3.0Edit

Korean popular music has growing popularity in more countries now than ever.[191] Psy, performer of the influential Gangnam Style, had huge success in Hallyu 2.0, but did not receive as much global attention as idol groups like BTS have had in recent years. BTS and other groups have had sustained success globally, with world tours and appearances at U.S. Billboard Music Awards and other foreign events.[130] The recent rise in K-pop has ushered in growing numbers of musical collaborations with foreign artists, both Korean and non-Korean. In 2014, Psy released a song with Snoop Dogg.[191] Other K-pop artists and groups have also started collaborating more, interestingly with Latin American and Spanish artists as well. These tactics have had mixed success, but the growth of foreign collaborations indicates a large-scale presence of Korean culture never seen before.

As of February 2021, the total number of listeners for BTS in countries such as India, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines far outnumbered that in South Korea.[192] YouTube is one of the main platform that helped globalize Kpop around world which is now a $10 billion industry. They even released a seven part documentary on the rise of Kpop and interviewed famous personalities from Korean popular music industry such as Amber Liu, Baekhyun, BoA, Taebin, Doyoung, Han Seung-yeon, Park Ye-eun, Joon Park, Kang Daniel, Kangta, Leeteuk, Sandara Park, Seulgi, Lee Tae-min, Lee Tae-yong, Tony Ahn, Pentagon, (G)I-dle and Everglow.[193]

With global proliferation of K-pop, South Korean entertainment industry recognizing the billion dollar opportunity slowly started creating its own version of United Talent Agency, Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency to represent Korean artist around Asia in a variety of industries that include film, television, digital media, publishing, music, and video games. With the advent of Hallyu 3.0, India started to gain importance in K-pop world tour events due to large number of young population in 10–30 years of age group and a growing disposable income.[194] As of 2021, India also became one of the fastest growing overseas fan base for Kpop genre with rising infatuation level.[195] The government of South Korea started investing in India to increase the market size and popularity of K-pop with the help of Korean Cultural Center.[196] Gaana reported 350% growth in K-pop genre alone across India in 2020.[197] Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music became major hubs for K-pop consumption in India.[198] Spotify in its Wrapped 2020 edition revealed that BTS became the only foreign artist that featured in the Top 5 Most Streamed category and first among the Top 20 Most Streamed K-pop Artist category in India that included names like Blackpink, Twice, GOT7, Red Velvet etc., showing the acceptance of K-pop in mainstream.[199]

With increasing global recognition and billion of dollars in investment and revenue, competition is now more fierce than ever before. After Big Hit Entertainment which is renamed as Hybe Corporation went public in Korea Exchange with a market capitalization of $7 billion, more music agencies are trying to become the next Hybe by launching new k-pop groups.[200] There is also a start of cross Asian collaboration between Kpop artists and their counterparts in Asia. In 2021, AleXa did a collaborative project with Kuwaiti-Saudi singer Bader Al Shuaibi while Eric Nam with Armaan Malik and Kshmr.[201] After the massive success of Dynamite, Butter also topped IMI International Top 20 Singles in India. Life Goes On was placed at No.20 position making BTS dominate the first official music chart debut in country.[202][203]

BTS became the first Asian artist with which McDonald's collaborated to sell celebrity set menu around the world in its 66 years history, since 1955. Some people even started selling limited version BTS meal set wrappers on platforms such as eBay. McDonald's which till now was seen as the symbol of American style capitalism and way of life changed its global marketing in 2021 under the influence of Kpop which became the epitome of reverse pop culture movement from the East to the West. Due to accepting the global diversity of culture and ideas, Korean wave is finding more resonance all around the globe. K-pop in general and BTS in particular also presented a different view on masculine image and gender less fashion style for generations born after the 1980s which breaks away from the image of a White Marlboro Man or Machismo.[195][204][205]

The rise of fans abroad is now influencing local music charts in South Korea. According to Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), only 24.96 percent of $390 million sales revenue of Hybe Corporation is coming from domestic market in H1 2021. For JYP Entertainment, ₩39.5 billion in exports surpassed the domestic sales of ₩33.3 billion in H1 2021. Popularity abroad is now an important criteria to make big in Korean music industry. Demand for older albums are rising in US and South America. Industry insiders are of the view that after COVID-19, international market will get more attention from Korean agencies. YouTube is now a major channel to push K-pop content abroad and is also used by domestic shows to calculate ranking of music videos.[206]

SM Entertainment with YouTube as part of collaborative effort started releasing remastered version of older K-pop music videos from first generation groups. The first set of videos released were Age of Violence from H.O.T, originally released in 1996 and Dreams Come True by S.E.S, released in 1998.[207]

To sustain the global influence of K-pop and make Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) comparable to prestigious Western Music Awards, CJ E&M is planing to organize future MAMA events in the US.[208] CJ ENM is also systematically increasing K-pop investment to penetrate new markets by signing more sponsorships and brand collaboration deals.[209]

Film in Hallyu 3.0Edit

Korean movies and dramas in Hallyu's first generation were primarily consumed in other Asian countries until recent years.[130] In particular, Korean entertainment has reached the mainstream Western film industry in newer ways, such as through Netflix, a leader in movie and television show streaming. In 2017, Korean director Bong Joon-ho created the Netflix original movie, Okja funded by Netflix. Bong Joon-ho also directed the dark comedy thriller movie Parasite, which won several awards at international film festivals. Parasite made history by winning two Academy Awards in 2020 for Best Picture and Best International Film.[130] Heavy demand for Korean content and COVID-19 pandemic pushed science fiction movie Space Sweepers to be released exclusively on Netflix in 2021.[133] Global recognition of Korean wave helped raising the demand of Korean talent and making them more desirable in international market for global projects such as in Hollywood.[210]

Manhwa in Hallyu 3.0Edit

While Korean comics, manhwa, were relatively obscure and not as well known as other comics like manga, they still held a loyal fanbase in the late 2000s. Thanks in part to the popular boom of Japanese manga, many publishers tried to capitalize on this success by licensing and translating popular manhwa which at the time had the same format of being in black-and-white and being released in small, paperback volumes.[211] It wouldn't be until the 2010s when manhwa would start to gain strong popularity around the world thanks in part to webtoons, a format that helped elevate manhwa due to its use of colors and unique layout that was better optimized for phones and computers.[212] Thanks to webtoons, many Korean companies such as Naver, Kakao, Lezhin and others have expanded globally and have begun to offer their titles in different languages and the global success of certain titles has led to the creation of film, television, and animated adaptations of them.[213][214]

In recent years, Manhwa became source for some of the most successful Korean dramas. Kakao Entertainment has the largest library of intellectual property (IP) based on manhwa in South Korea. It had already invested $1billion to establish the webtoon creator ecosystem in the country. In 2021, 50 original manhwa stories of Kakao were involved in some form of drama and film making. The company now runs Tapas and Radish in North America, Piccoma in Japan and Kross Komics in India as platform for promotion of webtoon development. Netflix produced some of the famous dramas and films based on webtoons such as Itaewon Class, Navillera, True Beauty, Love Alarm, The Uncanny Counter, Lovestruck in the City and Mad For Each Other, as well as films like Space Sweepers and Steel Rain. Apple TV+ and Disney+ both chose Dr. Brain and Moving respectively as their first Korean offerings which are webtoon-inspired dramas.[215][216] Piccoma is largest web comic platform globally based on revenue.[217]

Hallyu IndexEdit

State-funded trade promotion organisations KOTRA and KOFICE publish together an annual index measuring the global reach of the Korean Wave in specific countries. The index is calculated by a combination of export data and public surveys. In 2019, public surveys were conducted across 17 countries.[218] The results shown below indicate that the period of high growth of the Korean wave exist in countries across regions, with its main popularity currently hovering in the middle, excluding Japan, the Korean wave is growing.

Hallyu Index
Minority interest stage Diffusion stage Mainstream stage
Popularity Nations Popularity Nations Popularity Nations
Rapid growth Rapid growth



Rapid growth







Medium growth Medium growth




  South Africa


  United Arab Emirates

  United Kingdom

  United States

Medium growth


Decline Decline   Japan Decline

Fan clubsEdit

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the total number of active members of Hallyu fan clubs worldwide was estimated at 3.3 million, based on statistics published by official fan clubs in regions where there are Korean Cultural Centers.[219] In the same year, the Korea Tourism Organization surveyed 12,085 fans of Hallyu and concluded that most fans were young adults, over 90% were female, and most were fans of K-pop.[220] According to the Korea Foundation, in 2018 there were about 89 million fans of 'hallyu' around the world, and 1,843 fan clubs. The number of fans grew by 22% from the year before, which is largely attributed to the growing popularity of boy band BTS.[221] As of December 2019, there were 1,799 Hallyu fan clubs with 99.32 million fans, leading by K-pop followed by Korean dramas. According to The Korea Foundation, fans were based in Asia and Oceania at around 72 million, followed by 15 million in Europe and 12 million in the Americas.[22] As of September 2020, in 98 countries there are 1,835 fan clubs and a total of 104 million members as per data from Korea Foundation. During COVID-19 pandemic, the Korean Wave expanded to Africa, Europe and West Asia while USA saw a 30% jump in fan base from 2019 which now stands at 15.8 million. There is also decline mainly in China and Japan. Korean popular culture is now recognized in 109 countries due to Academy Award-winning movie, Parasite. Europe saw a 25% increase in fans from 15 million to 18.8 million. Africa and West Asia accounts for 1.19 million fans.[222][223] From 270,000 in 2020 to 15 million in 2021 as per Facebook Analytics, the number of Hallyu fans increased by 54 times in India making it the sixth largest K-pop market in the world.[224][225]

General search interest for the Korean boyband Super Junior among users from Peru, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Italy between October–November 2012[226]
Year Country/
Number of
Hallyu fans
2012   Belarus 1,000 [227]
2012   Palestine 3,000 [228]
2012   Israel 5,000 [228]
2012   Peru 8,000 [229]
2012   Chile 20,000 [229]
2012   Mexico 60,000 [230]
2011   France >100,000 [231]
2013   Turkey >150,000 [232]
2020   Russia 15,000,000 [233][234]
2021   India 15,000,000 [225]
Worldwide total
Year Fan clubs Members Source
2011 182 3.3 million [235]
2012 830 6.0 million [236]
2013 987 9.3 million [237]
2018 1,843 89.19 million [221]
2019 1,799 99.32 million [22]
2020 1,835 104 million [238]

Foreign relationsEdit

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has been responsible for international advocacy of Korean culture. The South Korean government is involved in the organisation of concerts such as the annual K-Pop World Festival.[239]

East AsiaEdit


In the past decade or so, many Chinese officials have expressed positivity towards Korean media and entertainment, including former paramount leader Hu Jintao[240][241] and former Premier Wen Jiabao, who was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying: "Regarding the Hallyu phenomenon, the Chinese people, especially the youth, are particularly attracted to it and the Chinese government considers the Hallyu phenomenon to be a vital contribution towards mutual cultural exchanges flowing between China and South Korea."[242] The Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a report that states that China is South Korea's biggest export at $121 billion a year. Tourism between the two countries has increased as a result of the Korean Wave, with South Korea receiving a 27% increase of tourists from China (3.8 million people) in 2016.[243]

The Hallyu fever that once was connected to just entertainment is also starting to extend to a broader fetishism of Korean lifestyles. Culinary styles have been connected as well as the cultural exchanges are now able to encourage a broader exchange of lifestyles in China. South Korean cosmetics have also benefited from the Chinese market, such as in the case of the Amorepacific Corporation, which received a 44% boost in sales.[244]

A four-member research study led by Kang Myung-koo of Seoul National University published a controversial report in 2013 suggesting that Chinese viewers of Korean dramas were generally within the lower end of the education and income spectrum. This led to an angry response from Chinese fans of Korean television, with one group purchasing a full-page advertisement in the Chosun Ilbo to request an apology from the authors of the study.[245][246]

Since 2016, China virtually banned Korean Wave because South Korea agreed to establish Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) with the US. Chinese government regarded THAAD in South Korea as a potential risk to Chinese national security.[247] To defend its national security and achieve political purposes, Chinese government restricted the spread of Korean Wave and prevented South Korea from generating economic benefits from K-Wave. On 4 August 2016, the fan meeting of a popular Korean drama, Uncontrollably Fond, including the leading actor and actress, Kim Woobin and Bae Suzy, was cancelled without any notified reasons in Beijing.[248] In March 2017, Beijing issued a suspension of group tours to South Korea for Chinese travel agencies.[249] Many Korean entertainers and music bands, such as Lee Kwang Soo, BTS, EXO, and Girls' Generation, faced difficulty performing in China.[250] On 7 December 2017, Yonhap reported that EXO Planet #3 concert which scheduled at Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre Stadium on 17 December has been abruptly cancelled by Chinese agency.[251] Despite of performances, Chinese people have a limited access to Korean music and drama on Chinese online sharing platforms. Korean media such as television shows and K-pop music videos were blocked from streaming in China.[252] This ban resulted in significant financial losses for the Korean entertainment industry with SM Entertainment down 18% since July 2016, a total of $150 million loss in market value.[253] YG Entertainment was down 32%, representing a $230 million loss.[253] Many Chinese-Korean television shows were put on hold as a result of THAAD.[254]

In November 2016, Chung Sye-kyun, then-Speaker of the Korean National Assembly was still positive about the spread of Korean Wave in China by announcing at the China Forum,"China has been and is the largest stage for hallyu, from the beginning of its popularity. The meaning of hallyu is to grow, even though the relationship between two countries has wavered due to THAAD."[255] In late 2017, the ban of Korean Wave appeared to be ending. Many large Chinese online video platforms, including iQiyi and Youku, restarted import of Korean dramas.[256] Chinese travel agencies also restarted group tours to South Korea. Dr. Pang Zhongying, an international and global affairs professor at the Ocean University of China said, "I think that relations are improving since President Moon's visit to China, and travel is one example of that."[257]

In 2017, China started to lift their ban on the Korean Wave with bands such as Mamamoo making appearances on Chinese TV shows after the South Korean and Chinese governments announced an agreement regarding the THAAD dispute.[258]


The hanryu or kanryu wave in Japan is marked by the popularity of Korean TV series Winter Sonata in 2003 but likely emerged earlier with travel trends, food culture, the beauty industry, and World Cup soccer. Korean actor Bae Yong-joon, also known in Japan as Yon-sama, was the early face of the wave, generating an economic burst as Japanese rushed out to buy the DVD of Winter Sonata, along with DVD players and related accessories. Early reporting of the popularity of Yon-sama included derogatory remarks about his female fan base in Japan, labeling them as sex-deprived "hags." However, the buying power of the Yon-sama fan base could not be ignored. Winter Sonata-themed beverages, foods, accessories, beauty products, and more sold out in Japan. Other Korean TV series soon followed, such as Jewel in the palace. The Japanese fan base easily recognized and connected historical Chinese elements present in the shows, such as calligraphy, and imperial court intrigues. Japanese women also connected to the comforting, communicative character played by Yon-sama. Since the arrival of the Korean wave, Korean cuisine and products have increased in Japan. Shin-Okubo Station in Tokyo, known for its Korean neighborhood, has since become featured in Japanese tourist brochures.[12]

As a result of the Korean wave, some hoped political tensions between Japan and South Korean may improve. Some effort has been taken to avoid tense associations, resulting in the adoption of the term koria from English "Korea" rather than using the politically charged term for Korea, kankoku. However, the overall effect has been limited.[12]

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledges that the Korean Wave in Japan has led to discussion and mutual cultural exchange between the two countries,[259] with high-profile fans of Korean television including former First Ladies Miyuki Hatoyama and Akie Abe. However, remaining tension between Japan and Korea has led to instances of street protests involving hundreds of people, demonstrating against the popularity of Korean entertainment exports.[260] These protests were mostly organized by critics of Korean pop culture with the support of right-wing nationalists.[261]

Still, the Japanese Cabinet Office survey in 2004 found that favorable feelings towards South Korea rose to 56.7% a three-year record high in Japan.[12]

The worldwide popularity of Japanese movies, and pop music was overtaken by their Korean counterparts around 2010. This has been attributed to Korea's puritanical culture ("K-Pop groups look and act like real adults, whereas J-Pop outfits often emphasize adolescent cuteness"), K-Pop being continually influenced by American and European trends while J-Pop remains static, the Korean pop industry's control of talent recruitment and distribution, K-Pop's embrace of social media such as YouTube while J-Pop producers frequently shut down unauthorized clips on that site, and the "Japan Galapagos Syndrome" where many recent products are designed only for the Japanese domestic market while lacking worldwide appeal.[262][263]


In the early 1990s, Korean TV dramas first entered Taiwanese market but they didn't gain wide popularity.[264] Local broadcasting channel GTV began to broadcast Korean television dramas in the late 1990s. The shows were dubbed into Mandarin and were not marketed as foreign, which may have helped them to become widely popular during this time.[265] Since 2000, Korean pop culture was so popular that it even replaced the positions of long-lasting, favorable Japanese TV operas and Hong Kong pop music in Taiwan. It was a reverse in the Taiwanese entertainment market because Japan and Hong Kong maintained stable relationships with Taiwan for exchanging culture for hundreds of years, whereas South Korea was regarded negatively by Taiwanese, especially after South Korea readjusted the relationship with Taiwan and established a new relationship with mainland China since 1992.[266] The boom of Korean Wave changed Taiwanese perspectives on South Korea and promoted the relationship between Taiwan and South Korea. Taiwanese TV stations gradually imported Korean TV series, such as Dae Jang Geum, one of the most famous series.[267] Besides Korean dramas, Korean pop music has also gained public attention in Taiwan. In July 2018, Taiwan News reported that Korean pop music was getting even more popular in Taiwan by holding seven K-Pop concerts within two months in Taipei, including live concerts by Zion.T, and Wanna One.[268]

South AsiaEdit


As per deputy foreign minister for political affairs of Afghanistan Meerwais Nab, Korean TV dramas are becoming extensively famous and well received in the country. The government of the Republic of Korea is also planning to open Korean Cultural Centre to improve people to people contact and increase the attractiveness of Korean wave among the young Afghan population.[269]


The popularity of the Korean wave since 2010 began to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and South Korea. Since then South Korean export of K-pop, K-drama and other pop culture merchandise to Bangladesh have increased. Although Psy's 2012 released music video Gangnam Style was the most recognizable K-pop song in Bangladesh there were fans of the genre even before who knew about groups such as Super Junior.[270]

In 2020, the song called Dynamite released by BTS became a hit among the younger generation. The group has also slowly started following K-beauty standards followed by K-pop idol groups. As of 2021, Korea wave penetration is mostly limited to urban cities. The South Korean K-dramas started attracting fanbases in Bangladesh due to the short episode format. Netflix entering the Bangladesh streaming market acted as a catalyst that helped popularize the Korean wave among larger audiences. Since then, Netflix became the go to platform to watch high quality Korean dramas. Facebook also saw a constant rise in Bangladeshi fan groups of K-pop and K-drama. These social groups even started hosting various events and activities amongst its members.[271]

Due to popularity of Korean products, specialized stores are available in big cities like Dhaka and Chittagong that sell South Korean beauty cosmetics, clothings and other related products. There is also a rise in demand to visit South Korea. Korean specialized restaurants are opening up around major locations selling Korean barbecue, grilled beef, bulgogi and kimchi. Unlike Indian or Western popular culture, until now the larger conservative section of the society did not label out South Korean culture or the Korean wave as destructive.[270][272]


Investment from Chaebols during economic liberalisation started the first phase of hallyu with promotion of Korean studies and language. From 2002 to 2005, K-dramas became the central theme of Korean Week celebrations at Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of Delhi, University of Calcutta and University of Madras. It also gave an opportunity for student theatre groups to conduct one on one interaction with renowned directors from South Korea. In 2008, under joint partnership between Republic of Korea and Government of Nagaland, first Korea India Music Festival was organized at Kohima. K-pop singers and Korean cuisine were promoted in 2009 Hornbill Festival.[273] Northeast India gained further recognition as hotspot of hallyu after Priyanka Mazumdar got selected for Z-Girls.[274][275]

Since 2013, Korean Cultural Centre (KCC) started promoting K-pop through nationwide competition. The winners represented India at 2016 K-Pop World Festival.[276][277] The Consul of the Republic of Korea helped Chennai based Dorama Club in organizing Hallyu quiz contests, dance competitions and language classes. Gangnam Style in 2012 pushed K-pop further into mainland India.[225] In 2013, Arirang TV and KBS World launched a joint project to close the cultural gap between South Korea and India. The plan was to provide youngsters exposure of Korean pop culture, Taekwondo and Korean language.[278][279] Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) introduced a reality show called News Report Reality: Exciting India in 2015.[280] It selected Cho Kyu-hyun (Super Junior) Choi Min-ho (Shinee), Kim Jong-hyun (CNBLUE), Kim Sung-kyu (Infinite), and Suho (Exo) for the show to check the future of K-pop in the country.[281][282] As per KCC survey, viewership of Korean dramas in India doubled from 2014 to 2017. Remake of Korean scripts by Bollywood played an important role in popularity of Korean content.[283][284] Similarity in emotional experience and common Asian values made Korean content more relatable for the audience.[285][286]

In 2017, South Korean Consul inaugurated Korean Musical Night with a popular play called Chef in Kolkata to introduce various aspects of Korean culture. It was part of a cultural awareness campaign for professors and students from Eastern India.[287][288] First lady Kim Jung-sook attended the 2018 Indian round of K-Pop World Festival. During presidential dinner at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Ram Nath Kovind acknowledged the popularity of hallyu in the country.[225][289] Korean wave pushed K-beauty trends in India.[290] Skincare brands from South Korea started building up online and offline presence.[291] On 20 September 2018, InKo Centre sponsored the first K-Beauty Conference at Phoenix Marketcity (Chennai).[292] Affordable Korean cosmetics started replacing premium Western brands.[293][294] As per Rakuten Insight Market Research Survey 2019, 25% K-beauty products are now used by 39% of Indian women, while 3% among them strictly follow K-beauty routine. These developments made Chanel introduce K-beauty inspired products in the country.[295] Indian beauty startups Pilgrim and Quench Botanics also took inspiration and launched products akin to K-beauty brands.[296][297] Nykaa and Skinella introduced biodegradable sheet mask based on Ayurveda using technology developed in South Korea.[298][299] Eros International and SayOn Media on 28 February 2019 announced joint collaborative project for a movie and drama based on 2010 published Korean novel Heo Hwang-ok, Embrace of Gaya.[300]

International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) invited Park Chan-wook, Kim Ji-Woon and Kim Ki-Duk for pushing the boundaries of film-making in Asia.[301] InKo Center, Goodwill Envoy for Culture and Diplomacy of the Republic of Korea in coordination with Korean Art International Exchange Association and Anguk Zen Center donated 100,000 health masks for free distribution during Covid-19 pandemic in India.[302] To heal the COVID-19 lockdown fatigue, KCC and South Korean Consulate in Chennai started outreach programme throughout 2020 in association with Indo-Cine Appreciation Foundation. This included monthly theme based event on K-drama, K-food, K-pop and K-movies [303] Quiz competition on Korean history and culture in 2020 attracted 10,000 school students in Mumbai.[304] To enhance collaboration between Korean and Indian entertainment industry, Kiwa Enterprise started nurturing local singing and dancing talents interested in K-pop. They also performed in Asia New Star Model Festival - Face of India in association with Dada Phalke International Film Festival.[305]

Rapid growth of internet and over-the-top media services made Korean content an alternative for Western pop culture.[306][307][308] YouTube Music, JioSaavn, Spotify started expanding their K-pop library. Weverse and Viki confirmed increasing Indian web traffic from March to September 2020.[309] With 370% growth till December 2020, Netflix acknowledged the demand of Korean drama and published a video on YouTube explaining Korean wave phenomenon in the country.[310][311] Independent, fiery women characters with positive statement on gender equality, feel good story line and safer family viewing experience attracted large number of female viewers.[312] Artists such as Bae Suzy, Park Bo-gum, Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jung Hae-in, Park Ju-hyun, Kim Soo-hyun, Seo Yea-ji, Son Ye-jin, Hyun Bin, Lee Min-ho and Park Shin-hye became household names.[313][314][315]

Shift of viewership towards Korean content and fear of losing advertisement revenue led to the demand of raising quality of local content.[316][317] Showcasing interviews of famous and emerging K-pop idols became recurring theme among news media organizations.[318] Pinkvilla lauched HallyuTalk, a platform for fan letters, exclusive interviews and updates from Korean entertainment industry. As per Director and Press counsellor Hwang Il-yong, it is also monitored by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and Korean Cultural Centre.[319] Hallyu introduced webtoon reading culture as Line Webtoon and Kross Komics started hosting local creators on their platform.[320] As per South Korean ambassador Shin Bong-Kil, India is the sixth largest consumer of K-pop and K-drama in the world as of 2020.[321][322]

Scholars view Korean wave as alternative for western dominated influence of mass media and eurocentrism.[323][324] In India, hallyu not only broke East Asian stereotypes but further reduced colonial era obsession of West.[325][326] Korean wave gave more impetus to talks of Asian Century among think-tanks, politicians and business circles.[327][328][329] Inter-Asian dialogue became the cornerstone of South Korea-India bilateral relationship.[330][331] By the end of 2020, Korean dramas invoked massive curiosity ranging from food, language and culture.[332] Product recall value for tteokbokki, mandu and soju are all-time high. More customers are visiting specialty stores dealing with imports from East Asia.[333] Local inquires for Korean fried chicken, ramyeon, kimchi, gimbab, kimchi-jjigae shot up as Korean expatriates listed their canteens on food delivery platforms.[334][335]

In 2021, Korean became the fifth most popular language on Duolingo and the fastest growing among 17 to 25 years old age group of Indians.[336] King Sejong Institute further helped sustain this growing interest of Korean language.[337] K-pop related podcasts topped Spotify charts.[334] Netflix, MX Player, ZEE5, PlayFlix started dubbing Korean content in major languages of India.[338][339] K-dramas attracted more viewership due to their warm, wholesome experience.[340] Fan made reviews started appearing on social media platforms.[334] South Korean vloggers also gained attention in the country.[341][342] Demand of Korean fashion led to dumping of recycled clothes from East Asia.[343] Korea-themed cafes and restaurants opened up in urban cities.[344][345] Korean fast food brands also entered the market.[346] Increasing Korean expatriates led to opening of multiple Korean grocery stores.[347]

Arjun Kanungo and Zing TV released a fusion cover video on World Music Day to celebrate Korean Wave.[348] In 2021, hallyu became lot more mainstream influencing every age group.[349] It moved beyond cities and reached non-urban areas where regional language and dialects are more popular.[350] One Take Media Corporation (OTMC) became leading provider of Korean content in regional languages.[351] From educational technology, hospitality to entertainment, success of hallyu led new generation of Korean entrepreneurs to setup business in India.[352][353] After English, Korean content now attracts the highest viewership in foreign language category. To further strengthen it, Korean Cultural Centre partnered with Zee Entertainment Enterprises to showcase Korean movies and dramas regularly on Zee Café, &Flix and &privé HD from November, 2021.[354]

Sri LankaEdit

In May 2021, Lee Young-ae and her company signed a deal with Rupavahini Corporation for the broadcasting rights of Saimdang, Memoir of Colors in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan ambassador to South Korea met with Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea Kim Jeongbae in June 2021 and agreed on a deal to telecast Korean movies and dramas through electronic media in the country since the rise of Korean wave.[355]

Middle East and North AfricaEdit

Since the mid-2000s, Israel, Iran, Morocco and Egypt have become major consumers of Korean culture.[356][357] Following the success of Korean dramas in the Middle East & North Africa, the Korean Overseas Information Service made Winter Sonata available with Arabic subtitles on several state-run Egyptian television networks. According to Youna Kim (2007), "The broadcast was part of the government's efforts to improve the image of South Korea in the Middle East, where there is little understanding and exposure towards Korean culture" (p. 31).[358] The New York Times reported that the intent behind this was to contribute towards positive relations between Arab & Berber audiences and South Korean soldiers stationed in northern Iraq.[359]

MBC4 (Middle East Broadcasting Channel) played a major role in increasing the Korean wave's popularity in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). This broadcasting channel hosted a series of Korean drama starting 2013 such as "Boys Over Flowers" (أيام الزهور), "You're Beautiful" (أنت جميلة), "Dream High" (حلم الشباب ), "Coffee Prince" ( مقهى الأمير). Some Arab countries opposed Korean shows (dramas and reality TV shows) because of the fear they would lead to Islamic youth to abandon their traditions wholesale to adopt Western modernity wholesale.[360] However, this did not stop the Korean industries from exporting more Korean Dramas to the Arab world in the following years such as "The Heirs" ( الورثة).

The popularity of Korean dramas in the MENA region-and its continuous growth- originates from the content of these dramas. As the majority of the plots of Korean dramas focus on social issues (love between different social classes or family problems for instance),[361] the Arab audiences fit themselves and could relate to the Korean socio-cultural values as they seem appealing to them. So Korean dramas play the role of an equilibrium point where two, somehow, different cultures could create a new cultural space where these two cultures could meet.

As per Spotify data, Middle East & North African region has shown 140% increase in K-pop consumption between January 2020 to January 2021. In the region, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Egypt and Qatar became the top five nations that stream Kpop the most.[201]


Autumn in My Heart, one of the earliest Korean dramas brought over to the Middle East, was made available for viewing after five months of "persistent negotiations" between the South Korean embassy and an Egyptian state-run broadcasting company. Shortly after the series ended, the embassy reported that it had received over 400 phone calls and love letters from fans from all over the country.[362] According to the secretary of the South Korean embassy in Cairo Lee Ki-seok, Korea's involvement in the Iraq War had significantly undermined its reputation among Egyptians, but the screening of Autumn in My Heart proved "extremely effective" in reversing negative attitudes.[363]

In 2020 as per Spotify streaming data, Egypt became the fastest growth market globally for Kpop.[364] As per Alaa Mansour, assistant lecturer at Ain Shams University who worked at Korean Cultural Center, the rise of Korean Wave through Kpop and Kdrama in Egypt made Korean language learning popular among younger generation especially girls. The influence and love for Korean wave even spread among Egyptian artists such as comedian actor Mohamed Henedi. The growing fan base of Kpop bands in Egypt led to the creation of donation camps for various social causes. The Korean wave is slowly becoming a lifestyle choice for many people in Egypt. Young Egyptians are also moving to South Korea for higher studies or to settle down.[365]

In March 2021, the Korean language department of Ain Shams University was praised by South Korean ambassador to Egypt Hong Jin-wook for improving the understanding of Korean culture and language while building a friendly bond between both the nation.[366]


South Korean actor Song Il-gook at a press conference in Tehran on 18 August 2009[367]

Iran's state broadcaster, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), aired several Korean dramas during prime time slots in recent years, with this decision attributed by some to their Confucian values of respect for others, which are "closely aligned to Islamic culture",[368] while in contrast, Western productions often fail to satisfy the criteria set by Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.[369] In October 2012, the Tehran Times reported that IRIB representatives visited South Korea to visit filming locations in an effort to strengthen "cultural affinities" between the two countries and to seek avenues for further cooperation between KBS and IRIB.[370][371]

According to Reuters, until recently audiences in Iran have had little choice in broadcast material and thus programs that are aired by IRIB often attain higher viewership ratings in Iran than in South Korea; for example, the most popular episodes of Jumong attracted over 90% of Iranian audience (compared to 40% in South Korea), propelling its lead actor Song Il-gook to superstar status in Iran.[367]

Researchers from both countries have recently studied the cultural exchanges between Silla (one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea) and the Persian Empire. The Korea Times reported that the two cultures may have been similar 1,200 years ago.[372]

List of Korean TV Series aired by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)
of broadcast
TV series TV channel Episodes Television
2006–07 Dae Jang Geum Channel 2 54 86% [373]
2007–08 Emperor of the Sea Channel 3 51
2008 Thank You Channel 5 16
2008–09 Jumong Channel 3 81 80–90% [87]
2009 Behind the White Tower Channel 5 20
2010 Yi San Eshragh TV 77
2010–11 The Kingdom of the Winds Channel 3 36
2011 The Return of Iljimae Channel 3 24
2012 Dong Yi Channel 3 60 [370]
2014 Hong Gil-dong Namasyesh TV 24
2014 Kim Su-ro, The Iron King Channel 3 32
2014 Brain Channel 5 20
2015 Faith Namasyesh TV 24
2015 Moon Embracing the Sun Channel 3 22
2015 Fermentation Family Namasyesh TV 24
2015 Gyebaek Namasyesh TV 36
2015 Good Doctor Channel 2 20
2016 Pasta Namasyesh TV 20
2016 The King's Daughter, Soo Baek-Hyang Channel Tehran 20
2016 The Fugitive of Joseon IRIB TV3 20
2016 The King's Dream Namasyesh TV 75


In the early 2000s, Korean dramas were aired for South Korean troops stationed in northern Iraq as part of coalition forces led by the United States during the Iraq War. With the end of the war and the subsequent withdrawal of South Korean military personnel from the country, efforts were made to expand availability of K-dramas to the ordinary citizens of Iraq.[374]

In 2012, the Korean drama Hur Jun reportedly attained a viewership of over 90% in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.[374] Its lead actor Jun Kwang-ryul was invited by the federal government of Iraq to visit the city of Sulaymaniyah in Kurdistan, at the special request of the country's First Lady, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed.[374]


In December 2013, Morocco's Marrakech International Film Festival, the largest film event in the Middle East and Africa, opened with Korean percussion music samulnori performance and screened more than 40 Korean movies, including Painted Fire (취화선) by director Im Kwon-Taek.[375] The same festival's top prize, the Golden Star, went to the Korean movie Hang Gong-Ju by Lee Su-Jin.

On 31 August 2014, the "Moroccan fans of Korea" association invited the Korean-American K-pop singer Eric Nam to Rabat, Morocco to take part in the finals for the regional competition for KBS's K-pop world festival, where participants competed in dancing and singing.[citation needed]

In 2015, Kpop group called Maze won and represented Morocco in Changwon K-Pop World Festival. Morocco also became a popular shooting destination for many Kpop and Kdrama that include songs like Stay from Taeyeon, Treasure from Ateez and 2019 series Vagabond which included Moroccan actor Kamal Kadimi.[376]


In 2006, the Korean drama My Lovely Sam Soon was aired on Israeli cable channel Viva. Despite a lukewarm response, there followed a surge in interest in Korean television shows, and a further thirty Korean dramas were broadcast on the same channel.[377]

In 2008, a Korean language course was launched at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, offering lectures on Korean history, politics, and culture.[228]

It is hoped by some commentators that the surging popularity of Korean culture across Israel and Palestine[378] may serve as a bridge over the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[379] The Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported that some Israeli and Palestinian K-pop fans see themselves as "cultural missionaries" and actively introduce K-pop to their friends and relatives, further spreading the Korean Wave within their communities.[380][381][382][383]


Netflix made K-drama immensely popular in UAE which proved to be a successful genre to increase subscriber base. Itaewon Class, Crash Landing on You and Guardian: The Lonely and Great God became some of the most viewed drama in 2020. This led to increasing local media coverage of Korean Wave in UAE. Korean dramas also presented as feel good series to people living in isolation during the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.[384]

Due to women leads in many K-drama series, Emiratis women became the prime consumers of Hallyu. The Korean wave also helped opining up many specialized business such as K Girls Closet, Chicsta in UAE that sell K-wave merchandise like spicy Korean ramyeon, K-beauty products etc. In recent times Korean family run restaurants started opening up as demand for Korean food skyrocketed. The growing demand helped Nene Chicken open its first middle eastern franchise in Dubai.[385]



In March 2012, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited South Korea's Yonsei University, where she acknowledged that her country has "caught" the Korean Wave that is "reaching all the way to our shores."[386]

New ZealandEdit

In November 2012, New Zealand's Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andrea Smith, delivered a key note address to South Korean diplomats at the University of Auckland, where she asserted that the Korean Wave is becoming "part of the Kiwi lifestyle" and added that "there is now a 4,000 strong association of K-pop followers in New Zealand."[387]



The first Korean drama in Romania was aired on TVR in August 2009, and in the following month it became the third most popular television program in the country.[388] Since then, Korean dramas have seen high ratings and further success.[388][389]


In February 2012, JYJ member Jaejoong was invited by the South Korean Embassy in Ankara to hold an autograph session at Ankara University.[390] Before departing for concerts in South America, Jaejoong also attended a state dinner with the presidents of South Korea (Lee Myung-bak) and Turkey (Abdullah Gül).[391]


The French Foreign Ministry acknowledges the status of Hallyu as a global phenomenon that is characterized by the "growing worldwide success of Korean popular culture".[392]


The German Foreign Office has confirmed that "Korean entertainment (Hallyu, telenovelas, K-pop bands, etc.) is currently enjoying great popularity and success in Asia and beyond."[393]

United KingdomEdit

In November 2012, the British Minister of State for the Foreign Office, Hugo Swire, held a meeting with South Korean diplomats at the House of Lords, where he affirmed that Korean music had gone "global".[394] Hallyu became so common in UK, that in September 2021 update of Oxford English Disctionary (OED) it included 26 popular Korean origin words into standard English vocabulary such as bulgogi, galbi, gimbap, kimchi, hanbok, taekwondo and Hangul. OED also revised the 11 existing Korean words.[395][396]

Hallyu became the new cool among young Britons. According to trend expert Brenda Gabriel, during the Covid-19 lockdown, people started spending more time consuming Korean content. BTS broke the record of most Top 10 hits by any K-pop artist in UK Singles Chart by May, 2021. The first contact with Hallyu happened through Psy's Gangnam Style which topped the music chart in the country in 2021.[397] Great production value, high visual quality and modest video girls are some of the reasons to peak interest in Korean pop music. In 2019, BTS topped the national music charts in UK and sold out two shows at Wembley Stadium within minutes.[398][399][400]

In 2018, The NPD Group reported that K-beauty standards (particularly the "glass skin" trend) was driving the growth of skincare product sales, while at the same time sales of makeup products (such as contouring) were declining.[401]

Among Korean products introduced by Marks & Spencer which became instant hit, Gochujang sales increased by 200 percent while ready-to-eat Korean fried chicken saw 250 percent growth in sales. South Korean street food Tornado Omelette became famous through TikTok which led to increase in sales of egg by 22 percent in 2020.[402]

With large number of Korean students studying in UK and influence of Hallyu led to the growth in Korean restaurants outside of major cities such as London.[403]

Duolingo reported 76 percent rise of Korean language learners in UK after the release of Netflix original Squid Game. Around 7.62 million people in UK are learning Korean making the nation tenth largest market for Korean language education.[404]

The rising interest in K-pop and K-Drama has led to large number of British university students wanting to get degrees in the Korean language.[405]

North AmericaEdit


Korean music and drama is popular in Canada, not just due to Korean communities, but as several K-Pop idols had grown up in Canada.[406][407]

United StatesEdit

During a state visit to South Korea in March 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama remarked that the Digital Age has enabled people from different cultures to connect across borders.[408]

During a bilateral meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the White House in May 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama cited "Gangnam Style" as an example of how people around the world are being "swept up by Korean culture – the Korean Wave."[409] In August 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also affirmed that the Korean Wave "spreads Korean culture to countries near and far."[410]

With the western recepetion of Korean pop culture, Korean representation on American TV shows are also improving. Recently Sesame Street introduced a Korean character named Ji-Young.[411]

South AmericaEdit


On 8 October 2021, Argentine Senate declared November 22 as National Kimchi Day which will be celebrated every year. Based on Twitter trends, Argentine is now the second most engaged community with Squid Game in the world. BTS is the most popular Korean pop music band in the country. Korean beauty products and facemask are getting popular among women in Argentina. As per film director Cynthia Razmir, Korean aesthetic and personality are creating a unique universal style that is easily absorbed by the viewers in Argentina. Food influencers in the country are also started giving attention to Korean food due to its diversity. In 2021, La Nación and Clarín covered Kimchi and how the dish not only found in Buenos Aires but also entered the local diet in Argentina. As per reporter Karina Niebla Clarin, Korean food is now established as balanced and healthy cuisine like Italian food in Argentina. With Hallyu, the influence of Korean expatriate community is growing in the country. It also contributed in building a positive image of South Korea as friend of Argentina.[412][413][414]


In Suriname, as of 2021 there is only one Korean restaurant which became popular after hallyu reached the country. Tteokbokki, Dakgangjeong, and Jajangmyeon are now high on demand. It also started conducting Korean language classes for locals as more people started watching Korean content.[414]

Peru, Bolivia, ColombiaEdit

In Peru, demand for Korean products are making smaller specialized stores move to larger department store format. Guardian: The Lonely and Great God and Parasite became very popular in Peru. K-pop and Korean cuisines started gaining attention in Bolivia. Dalgona became popular in Colombia after Squid Game success.[414]

United NationsEdit

On 30 October 2012, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a speech in front of the National Assembly of South Korea where he noted how Korean culture and the Hallyu-wave is "making its mark on the world".[415]

Following the establishment of BTS' Love Myself anti-violence campaign in partnership with UNICEF, they have addressed the United Nations 73rd and 75th General Assemblies on issues of ending violence, so as for the protection of young people so they can live without the fear of violence and encouragement for everyone to fight through Covid-19 together as life goes on.[416][417]

During a bilateral meet in May 2021, U.S. president Joe Biden in the presence of South Korean president Moon Jae-in acknowledged that "K-pop fans are universal" while speaking about close ties between people of United States and South Korea.[418]



The Korean Wave has spread the influence of aspects of Korean culture including fashion, music, television programs and formats, cosmetics, games, cuisine, manhwa and beauty standards.[419][420][421] In China, many broadcasters have taken influences from Korean entertainment programs such as Running Man; in 2014 SBS announced the Chinese version of this program, Hurry Up, Brother, which was a major hit as an example of a unique category of programs known as 'urban action varieties'.[422][423] Korean media has also been influential throughout Asia in terms of beauty standards. In Taiwan, where the drama Dae Jang Geum was extremely popular, some fans reportedly underwent cosmetic surgery to look similar to lead actress Lee Young-ae.[424]

In 2006, a non-profit organization called InKo Centre was jointly established by TVS Motor Company and Hyundai Motor Company to increase sociocultural exchange between South Korea and India.[340] InKo Centre started promotion of Korean language, culture, food, traditional arts like calligraphy and ggotggozi.[425] It also helped exchange of authors, painters, potters, theatre troupes and hip hop artists between Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and Seoul.[295][426] InKo Centre also coordinates K-Pop World Festival in India.[427] From July to September 2006, historical dramas such as Emperor of the Sea and Dae Jang Geum were introduced by Doordarshan. In 2007, Chongdong theater group performance was jointly co-hosted by South Korean Embassy in India and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). It received positive reception with jam-packed auditorium and cheering crowds all across India.[428][429]

An official joint delegation from North and South Korea inaugurated Heo Hwang-ok memorial in Ayodhya and established sister city agreement with Gimhae in 2001. Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) in 2010 produced Kim Su-ro, The Iron King to showcase the shared cultural link between Korean and Indian society.[430][431]

Staples like Korean noodles and Soju became popular among younger generation in India watching Korean dramas.[432][433] Around 2015 after Gangnam Style, women living in tier-1 cities of India readily accepted K-pop genre and Korean cultural content.[434] More people in India are now eager to learn Korean language, enjoy Korean food and visit South Korea for tourism.[435] Social commerce on Instagram flourished with Korean beauty products. Like Chinese, spicy Korean dishes started appealing to the Indian taste buds. Korean literature became popular among the millennials and post-millennial generation thanks to Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI Korea) and quarterly magazine Korean Literature Now.[436] Duolingo reported constant rise of Korean learners in India from mere 11% during October 2019 to February 2020 that shot up to 256% from March to October 2020.[309] According to Korean Cultural Center, Korean language is the second most widely spoken foreign language in India as of 2020.[437][438] Korean wave also introduced Kimchi in India. It started gaining popularity due to unique pungent and spicy profile that goes well with local dishes.[439] With rising interest in Korean culinary arts, Korean Cultural Centre in collaboration with Universities of Hotel Management and Food science started conducting national level Korean cooking contest to celebrate International Kimchi Day and make it more mainstream in India.[440][441]

With more free time during COVID-19 lock-down in India, people started making Korean food at home, sweet romantic Korean drama increased their appeal while K-beauty brands made big impact in India. Although famous for language, ethnicity, race and cultural barrier due to high diversity, singer Jimin of K-pop boy band BTS successfully penetrated and helped spreading Korean popular culture in India.[442][443] He became the epicenter of New Hallyu Wave with major coverage from mainstream media that included celebrity fans from Indian entertainment industry like A. R. Rahman, Armaan Malik, Ayushman Krurana, Ayesha Kaduskar, Badshah, Bhuvan Bam, Diljit Dosanjh, Deepika Padukone, Disha Patani, Kajol, Kapil Sharma, Nargis Fakhri and Pooja Hegde.[444][445][446][447][448] As per Armaan Malik, K-pop is now transfomed from a music genre to a popular cultural universe that has unique storylines, meaningful lyrics etc.[449] The ever increasing k-pop, k-drama fandom in India also started drawing media attention due to their various social projects that included those from UNICEF, World Wide Fund for Nature to COVID-19 pandemic relief.[450][451][452] The respectful, humbleness and versatility of Korean culture is now positively affecting family bonding in India bringing members of all age groups together.[453]

As per end of the year report 2020 published by Duolingo, Korean became the second fastest growing language on the platform and the seventh most popular language of study due to growing popularity of Korean wave around the world; it has grown to become the platform's top ranker (#1) in most popular language course taken in Bhutan, Brunei, Myanmar, and the Philippines as of 2020, up from a single country only (Brunei) in its previous year.[454] United States Modern Language Association found university students in the country opting for Korean language has been doubled from 2006 to 2016. From 13 King Sejong Institutes till 2007, it has now increased to 213 branches across 76 countries. Korean also became the fastest growing foreign language in Mexico and United States in 2020. The generation born after 1997 are the major demographic attracted to Korean wave that helped growing influence of Korean soft power around the world.[455] As per King Sejong Institute, more students in India are now applying for Korean language course and Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) due to Hallyu and foreign direct investment (FDI) from South Korea.[456][457]

Indian Millennials and Generation Z are showing more affinity towards Hallyu.[458] They are able to absorb popular Korean attributes due to cultural similarities found in habit, behavior, manners, food, words and their syllables.[459][460] Teenagers are becoming the fastest growing consumer of Hallyu.[461][462] Due to huge diversity in language, youngsters are able to pick up Korean lingo such as Eonnie, Oppa, Aigoo, Daebak, Kamsahmnida, Annyeonghaseyo, Saranghae into daily conversations with ease.[426][141] Ommo became the most commonly used Korean word.[463] With joint-recommendation from Korean Cultural Center and South Korean Embassy, Ministry of Education included Korean as part of second language study for students in National Education Policy 2020.[464][465] With growing demand for the language, KCCI raised its student intake capacity 14 times from 300 to 4200 while also expanding Korean education programme in the country with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).[466] Korea Foundation and Korean Cultural Center started workshop on language and culture, history, politics, economy of South Korea for school administrators of secondary education in India.[467][458] In 2021, Korean Cultural Center with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) started Korean language teacher training course.[468]

160,000 students around the world are learning Korean language due to Korean Wave in 2020. As per government data from Overseas Korean Language Education Assistance 2021, a total of 1,669 elementary, middle and high schools in 39 countries included Korean in their language curriculum with participation of 159,864 students in 2020. From 2019, there is an increase of 14,555 students with nine additional countries teaching Korean language. Vietnam designated Korean as first foreign language apart from Chinese and English for school students in February 2021. The Ministry of Education will invest US$20.7 million in 2021 for Korean language training at 1,800 schools in 43 countries. In view of growing demand for TOPIK, the paper based test system will be replaced by digitized test system from 2023.[469]

Korean dramas are influencing the demand of Korean food culture in India.[470][471] As per Korean Cultural Center, developing taste for Korean food takes some time for foreigners to adjust but Indians on the contrary open-heartedly accepted it. Experts view it as similarity in cooking techniques like frying, boiling, commonality of ingredients such as rice, noodles, vegetables, meat, sesame oil, chilli, pepper, soy etc. and the sharpness of flavour and spices which is making Korean cuisines familiar for Indian society.[472] According to GlobalData, hallyu influenced the demand of Korean food among every age group in Indian population. Amazon, Flipkart, Bigbasket, Swiggy are showing positive sales for Korean ingredients. Zomato registered 45% increase in demand from across the country for Korean cuisine after the release of Squid Game. Online search for kimchi, japchae, gimbap and ramyeon recipes are all-time high. Supply constraint is driving premiumization of Korean food but number of restaurants and cafés are also increasing to decrease the price and make it more affordable for large section of consumers. Market analysts view it as the start of Korean food culture going mainstream just like Indian Chinese cuisine.[473][474]

Political and economicEdit

In 2012, a poll conducted by the BBC revealed that public opinion of South Korea had been improving every year since data began to be collected in 2009. In countries such as China, France, India and Russia public opinion of South Korea turned from "slightly negative" to "generally positive".[475] This increase in 'soft power' corresponded with a surge in exports of US$4.3 billion in 2011.[476] For views on South Korea, Korean Culture and Information Service (KCIS) conducted a survey among 16 countries with 8000 participants during 2018–19 in which Russia gave the most positive public feedback at 94.8%, followed by India with 91.8% and Brazil with 91.6% respectively.[477]

Korean producers have capitalized on high demand in Asia due to the popularity of Korean media, which enabled KBS to sell its 2006 drama Spring Waltz to eight Asian countries during its pre-production stage in 2004.[30]

The following data is based on government statistics:

2008[478] 2009[479] 2010[480] 2011[480] 2012[481]
Total value of cultural
exports (in USD billions)
1.8 2.6 3.2 4.3 5.02

The following data is from the Korea Creative Contents Agency (part of the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism) for the first quarter of the 2012 fiscal year:

Creative industry sector Total revenue (KRW) Exports (KRW)
Animation[482] 135.5 billion ₩35.2 billion
Broadcasting[483] ₩213.5 billion ₩2.2 billion
Cartoon[484] ₩183.2 billion ₩4.7 billion
Character[482] ₩1882.9 billion ₩111.6 billion
Gaming[485] ₩2412.5 billion ₩662.5 billion
Knowledge/Information[486] ₩2123.1 billion ₩105.2 billion
Motion Picture[487] ₩903.8 billion ₩15.6 billion
Music[488] ₩997.3 billion ₩48.5 billion
Publishing[484] ₩5284.6 billion ₩65 billion

With awareness, acceptance and demand of K-beauty products among working women within the age group of 25 to 40 years, Amorepacific Corporation became the first Korean cosmetics company to enter India, setting shop near New Delhi in 2013. As per e-commerce platform Nykaa, Innisfree and The Face Shop are Top 10 beauty brands on demand that helped 15% increase in sales figure while capturing 8% of all online skin care product sales.[489] It also launched a Global Store in 2021 for its mobile users to bring more South Korean cosmetic brands into India.[490] They are seen as natural and chemical-free alternative to many well established Western brands. By 2014, other Indian e-commerce platforms such as Flipkart, Jabong and Myntra also started selling Korean beauty products due to rising sales revenue. At the same time many Korean Expatriate living in India started their own specialized services like Korikart, KoreanShop by Brics India Trade to capture the growing demand for all things coming from South Korea. Amazon confirmed huge demand for Korean beauty products beyond tier-1 metro cities. After Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between India and South Korea, KOTRA helped various Korean brands enter India[491][492] South Korean Pizza chain Mr. Pizza entered India in 2016.[493] Demand from Indian retail segment pushed brands such as Laneige, Belif, and Cosrx to start launching products exclusively for India from 2019 which briefly decreased due to COVID-19 pandemic but later labels like Accoje and Aroma Yong resumed their product launches from July 2020 onwards.[494] Without any official marketing and distribution, craze of K-pop and K-drama alone pushed growth of K-beauty segment 3.5 times in Amazon and Nykaa.[349] As per Euromonitor International, the value of K-beauty market in India reached ₹166 billion till 2020.[495] As part of brand engagement strategy in India, Kia Motors collaborated with K-pop girl band Blackpink to increase car sales among young customers while at the same time help in diffusion of authentic K-Pop culture.[496] Increasing investment and job prospects from Korean Chaebols helped to make Korean language studies popular in India.[497] South Korea saw a 5% year on year growth in 2020 for its agricultural export with 20% growth coming from Australia, India and US. The maximum surge in Korean wave related exports is coming from ASEAN member states and India.[498]

From the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in India, Google search trend showed greater interest in Korean food with increasing visibility of Korean noodle brands such as Shin Ramyun and Samyang on local supermarket shelves. E-commerce platform Korikart that deals with South Korean sellers and Indian buyers reported a growth of 300% during the lockdown period. Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency in association with Amazon opened online Korean Store to help ease the availability of products coming from South Korea such as kimchi sauce, roasted seaweed sheets, instant tteokbokki, spicy shrimp flavored crackers etc.[499][500][501] Korean wave helped many Chinese retailers too like Mumuso,[502][503] 2358 Store that give impression of being Korean to enter and expand into India.[504][505][506] The Korean wave helped in creation of new Korean entrepreneurs in India who first came from South Korea as employees of large corporations post 1990's economic liberalisation but now starting their own independent ventures such as speacility business in the country.[295] After acquiring cross border payment startup Momoe Technologies, the skyrocketing popularity of Korean wave made ShopClues enter into agreement with KOTRA and Qoo10 to help South Korean enterprises with the marketing and branding of their products in Indian online and offline markets.[507][508] South Korean cosmetic brands are now targeting $7.1 billion market opportunity in India which is the eighth largest in the world.[509]

Korean Wave increased the curiosity and made people take more interest on South Korea. This lead Korea Foundation in collaboration with the Academy of Korean Studies to start giving grants to academic institutions in Central America, Central Asia, South America, South Asia and the Pacific to diversify Korean studies which till now is high concentrated around North America and Western Europe that in return helps South Korea build international support base. In 1991, Korean Studies were limited to 151 universities in 32 countries which by the end of December 2020 increased to 1,411 universities in 107 countries. The grants are customized based on national characteristics and development stage with noticeable progress seen after 2010 in countries such as India, Indonesia, Russia and Thailand.[510]

As per Korea Custom Services (KCS), there is a 29.3% increase in export of Korean ramyeon instant noodles that hit the record of US$603 million. It is now four times greater than the largest food export item Kimchi. China, USA, Japan, Thailand and Philippines are the five largest importing market for the product. As per South Korean food and beverage company Nongshim, its factory in China and USA are running in full capacity to fulfill the demand of export orders in 2021. In 2018, Chinese citizens selected ramyeon as South Korean luxury product of the year. Year 2020 saw the maximum increase in sales of ramyeon in USA due to Kpop boy band BTS and Academy award-winning movie Parasite. Due to rise of Mukbang videos created by Korean internet users on YouTube, product sales of Samyang especially its fire noodle variety saw major growth in sales around the world.[511] With 70% of products directly imported from South Korea, Hallyu helped India based Korean e-commerce startup Korikart to increase sales with an average growth rate of 40% month after month in 2021 with the maximum consumption coming from fast-moving consumer goods segment followed by fashion and beauty.[512][513] With rising influence of Hallyu among Indian shoppers, Korikart is even venturing out in offline space with shops opening in urban areas and developing B2B e-commerce for small, medium and large business to increase market penetration for Korean brands.[514][515]

South Korean export of processed chicken reached US$21 million in 2020 due to the Korean wave, which is a 59.5% increase from 2019. US is the largest export market for Korean chicken followed by Hong Kong that registered 162.4% growth, Japan (22.7%), Canada (6.7%), Taiwan (6.2%), Myanmar (2.5%), and Australia (2.1%) respectively.[516] Improving business ties between South Korea and Indonesia lead to signing of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in December 2020.[517] Due to positivity towards South Korean content such K-pop and K-dramas, Korean multinational corporations like Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, LG Household & Health Care, Amorepacific Corporation are able to sell more products in one of the largest growing consumer market in Southeast Asia. Retail company GS Group is planning to expand its store networks in Indonesia. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia is the fourth largest trading partner of South Korea.[518]

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown in India, Korikart with Tata Sky started Home shopping channel to improve the reach of South Korean brands in smaller towns and cities in view of skyrocketing demands.[519][520] American burger chain McDonald's partnered with global K-pop sensation BTS for a celebrity meal option that will be sold in 50 countries around the world from 26 May 2021.[521] As per 2021 India survey by Euromonitor International, South Korean instant noodle brands saw 164% rise in consumption during 2020 that directly correlated with the viewership of K-dramas and K-Pop. Till Q3 FY21, Korean noodles recorded 178% consumption growth than in 2020.[349] Nongshim and Samyang Food are now considering India as their next growth market. Ecommerce company Korikart started registering a monthly sales growth of 40% over imported South Korean products from March 2020. The market value of Korean packaged food is ₹180 billion in 2020 which is growing at 16% annually. Compared to Korean Expatriates, Indians are now the major customers of food ingredients from South Korea.[522][523] Japanese brand Nissin Foods launched Korean spicy flavour Geki noodle to capture the Hallyu popular culture in the country. In FY21, India imported ₹55 million worth of Soju from South Korea, as per data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI). By Q3 FY22, the import value already stands at ₹41 million showing steady growth rate. Hallyu made Soju drinking culture popular in urban cities of India.[276] As per Seo Young-doo CEO of Korikart, Korean popular music and dramas open the Indian market for Korean trade with the nation surpassed the interest stage of Hallyu. Orion Confectionery registered 400% growth in 2020-21 financial year despite economic slowdown.[524] Jeonbuk Business Centre started promoting Korean food products to local manufacturers and traders.[525]

In 2021, there is a surge in demand for Korean cosmetics brand in Turkey and Middle East. Ecommerce and influencer marketing are helping brands such as Cosrx, Missha, Moremo, Klairs and Axis-Y enter the region. They are gaining market share from US and European competitors due to value for money and quality. Due to rapid rise of K-beauty in the region, Watsons is planning to open 100 stores in the entire Middle East by the end of 2025. Already 300 of its 350 stores in Turkey started designating a separate section for Korean beauty brands. As per estimate by Allied Market Research, the global sales of K-beauty brands will reach $13.9 billion by 2027 from $10.2 billion in 2019. As of June 2021, South Korea exported $726 million of cosmetics.[526]

Starbucks collaborating with Blackpink to release a range of merchandise in Thailand on 23 August 2021 through Shopee that includes glassware, lanyard, and handful of bag items decorated with the Blackpink logo. Part of the profit from this collaboration will be donated to the Red Cross Society in Thailand to help healthcare workers working in COVID-19 pandemic areas.[527] From September 2021, Hybe Labels with BTS will launch TinyTan Gim, a spicy dried seaweed snack with eight different flavours. Initially the distribution will start with Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, the UK and the US and later based on market demand will be released globally.[528]

Limese inaugurated first store in collaboration with Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) in New Delhi on 1 November 2021 to curate premium Korean beauty products suitable for skin type from Indian subcontinent.[529] Atomy entered India with an investment of ₹2.5 billion to capture the growing Korean skincare, health supplements and food market. According to Allied Market Research, the size of Indian K-beauty market is $10.2 billion in 2019 that will reach $13.9 billion by 2027.[530] Rising level of female workforce and purchasing power helped the growth of K-beauty market.[531] Hallyu made Korean snacks popular in Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia and the US. Choco pie became the best selling product in China and Vietnam while Lotte Confectionary captured 90% of India's pie segment. Sales of Pepero abroad reached ₩18.5 billion in 2021 with 20.1% annual growth. Korean brands are also trying to localize flavours based on market demand in China and India.[532][533]

Relations with North KoreaEdit

According to various reports, the spread of Hallyu to North Korea has occurred through CDs, DVDs, and USB sticks smuggled from China. Some North Koreans living near the Demilitarized Zone have also been illegally tuning into South Korean radio stations.

In North Korea, the term associated with the Korean wave is 남조선 바람 namjoseon baram (literally "South Korean wind").[534] The ninth President of South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun, acknowledged the possible use of Hallyu as a tool to help to reunify the Korean Peninsula.[535] In May 2007 the television series Hwang Jini, adapted from a novel by a North Korean author, became the first South Korean production to be made available for public viewing in North Korea.[536]

With the end of the Roh Moo-hyun administration's Sunshine Policy towards North Korea and a deterioration of North-South relations, however, Hallyu media was quickly restrained by North Korean authorities, although a report published by Radio Free Asia (a non-profit radio network funded by the U.S. federal government) suggested that the Korean Wave "may already have taken a strong hold in the isolated Stalinist state".[537]

In 2010, researchers from the Korea Institute for National Unification surveyed 33 North Korean defectors and found that the impact of shows such as Winter Sonata had played a significant role in shaping the decision of the defectors to flee to the South. It was further revealed that a small number of people living close to the Korean Demilitarized Zone have been tampering with their television sets to receive signals from South Korean broadcast stations in the vicinity, while CDs and DVDs smuggled across the border with China also increased the reach of South Korean popular culture in the North.[535] In 2012, the Institute surveyed a larger group of 100 North Korean defectors. According to this research, South Korean media was prevalent within the North Korean elite. It also affirmed that North Koreans living close to the border with China had the highest degree of access to South Korean entertainment, as opposed to other areas of the country.[538] Notels, Chinese-made portable media players that have been popular in North Korea since 2005, have been credited with contributing to the spread of the Hallyu wave in the Northern country.[539][540]

In October 2012, the Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, gave a speech to the Korean People's Army in which he vowed to "extend the fight against the enemy's ideological and cultural infiltration".[541] A study conducted earlier that year by an international group commissioned by the U.S. State Department came to the conclusion that North Korea was "increasingly anxious" to keep the flow of information at bay, but had little ability to control it, as there was "substantial demand" for movies and television programs from the South as well as many "intensely entrepreneurial" smugglers from the Chinese side of the border willing to fulfill the demand.[541]

...My happiest moments when I was in North Korea were watching South Korean TV shows. I felt like I was living in that same world as those actors on the show.
—A North Korean defector interviewed by Human Rights Watch[542]

In February 2013, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that Psy's 2012 single "Gangnam Style" had "deeply permeated North Korea", after a mission group had disseminated K-pop CDs and other cultural goods across the China–North Korea border.[543]

On 15 May 2013, the NGO Human Rights Watch confirmed that "entertainment shows from South Korea are particularly popular and have served to undermine the North Korean government's negative portrayals of South Korea".[542]

The 2019–2020 drama Crash Landing on You, tells the story of Yoon Seri (Son Ye-jin), a South Korean chaebol heiress who, while paragliding in Seoul, South Korea, is swept up in a sudden storm and crash-lands in the North Korean portion of the DMZ. It also addresses the influence of South Korean dramas in North Korea, through the North Korean soldier Staff Sergeant Kim Ju Meok (Yoo Su-bin), who is a fan of South Korean dramas.[544] His love of K-dramas eventually leads to his meeting with the actress Choi Ji-woo, the star of one of his favorite dramas, Stairway to Heaven.[545]

In 2021, Kim Jong-un and the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) called K-pop as vicious cancer that should not left unchecked. North Korea has enacted a law in December 2020 that put 15 years of hard labour as punishment for people who were caught watching South Korean entertainment content. Rodong Sinmun warned the authorities that capitalist tendencies coming from South Korea is affecting the ideological and mental state of younger generation that will destroy North Korea. Kim Jong-un termed North Korean women who call their date as oppa instead of comrade perverted. As punishment, those who were caught will be forced to leave cities. The government even urged citizens to report on those who smuggle or watch South Korean content.[546]


South Korea's tourism industry has been greatly influenced by the increasing popularity of its media. According to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), monthly tourist numbers have increased from 311,883 in March 1996[547] to 1,389,399 in March 2016.[548]

The Korean Tourism Organisation recognises K-pop and other aspects of the Korean Wave as pull factors for tourists,[549] and launched a campaign in 2014 entitled "Imagine your Korea", which highlighted Korean entertainment as an important part of tourism.[550][551] According to a KTO survey of 3,775 K-pop fans in France, 9 in 10 said they wished to visit Korea, while more than 75 percent answered that they were actually planning to go.[552] In 2012, Korean entertainment agency S.M. Entertainment expanded into the travel sector, providing travel packages for those wanting to travel to Korea to attend concerts of artists signed under its label.[552]

Many fans of Korean television dramas are also motivated to travel to Korea,[553] sometimes to visit filming locations such as Nami Island, where Winter Sonata was shot and where there were over 270,000 visitors in 2005, or Dae Jang Geum Theme Park.[549] The majority of these tourists are female.[554] K-drama actors such as Kim Soo-Hyun have appeared in KTO promotional materials.[555]

As per Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) data, more than 100,000 Indians started travelling to South Korea from 2018 which saw an annual average growth rate of 10–15%. With growing hallyu wave in India, KTO also started promoting Korean culture through activities such as Hangul calligraphy, face and mask painting, traditional games, food, music, dance festivals which invited performance from artists like In2It, Gamblrez Crew and fusion music band Queen.[556] KTO registered 36% growth till December 2019 for outbound Indian tourist visiting South Korea.[557]

Study conducted by Hanyang University found that 84.2% of Africans are more inclined to visit the locations where Korean movies and soap operas were shot.[558]

On 23 July 2021, KTO in collaboration with Korikart launched its official mascots in India.[559] On 15 August 2021, as part of celebration for India's Independence Day, National Liberation Day of Korea and popularity of Hallyu, the New Delhi branch of KTO introduced a tailor-made cultural awareness course in collaboration with Delaware based startup CulturaGo under K-Xperience Project for Indian travelers willing to visit South Korea for higher education, tourism or business. The course contained five modules on Korean culture, geography and different cities, how to live and travel like local, daily lifestyle and etiquettes and difference between South Korea and India to minimize cultural shock. To create better understanding, foreigners settled in South Korea will also conduct video interviews to share their own experience with Indian participants.[560][318]

As Hallyu goes mainstream with rapid progress in popularity, KTO along with Discovery+, Millenasia, Innisfree, The Hindu and BookMyShow launched an online consumer engagement event under K-Xperience Project from 17 September to 15 November 2021 in India. The event was to engage people from all over the country on K-Food, K-Pop, K-Beauty, K-Drama and Korean products in general. Indian singer and choreographer Shraey Khanna with AleXa were part of it to showcase fusion of K-pop and Hindi dance music.[561][562] As per KTO, India became one of the top consumer of Korean wave and it is influencing the lifestyle, urban culture and street style of the country.[468][334] To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Blackpink, KTO and PVR Cinemas organized special screening of BLACKPINK: The Movie on 4 December 2021.[563] Under the New Southern Policy of Moon Jae-in administration, KTO is promoting South Korea as major Business and Leisure travel destination in Asia.[564][565]


The Korean Wave has also been met with backlash and anti-Korean sentiment in countries such as Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and China.[566] Existing negative attitudes towards Korean culture may be rooted in nationalism or historical conflicts.[260][567]

In China, producer Zhang Kuo Li described the Korean Wave as a "cultural invasion" and advised Chinese people to reject Korean exports.[568]

In Japan, an anti-Korean comic, Manga Kenkanryu ("Hating the Korean Wave") was published on 26 July 2005, and became a No. 1 bestseller on the Amazon Japan site. On 8 August 2011, Japanese actor Sousuke Takaoka openly showed his dislike for the Korean Wave on Twitter, which triggered an Internet movement to boycott Korean programs on Japanese television.[569] Anti-Korean sentiment also surfaced when Kim Tae-hee, a Korean actress, was selected to be on a Japanese soap opera in 2011; since she had been an activist in the Liancourt Rocks dispute for the Dokdo movement in Korea, some Japanese people were enraged that she would be on the Japanese TV show. There was a protest against Kim Tae-hee in Japan, which later turned into a protest against the Korean Wave. According to a Korea Times article posted in February 2014, "Experts and observers in Korea and Japan say while attendance at the rallies is still small and such extreme actions are far from entering the mainstream of Japanese politics, the hostile demonstrations have grown in size and frequency in recent months."[570]

In the Philippines, director Erik Matti posted on his Twitter account that Filipino TV series and movies are doomed in the future because of K-dramas, stating that Korean actors are "whiter than white" and the stories are "all about love in the midst of this pandemic."[571][572] German-Filipina singer and former beauty queen Imelda Schweighart expressed her dislike for K-pop, lamenting that Filipinos are losing their identity trying to be like South Koreans.[573] Despite receiving online backlash, Schweighart believes the issue is an eye-opener for all Filipinos, stating that not everyone loves K-pop, "media providers shouldn't just be supporting something just because they have a lot of fans." She added that Filipinos tune to K-dramas and K-pop because "they don't have variety. We don't honor creativity here. We just keep on doing the same thing over and over again. And I'm sick of it. And some people are sick of it as well."[574]

The Korean entertainment industry has also been criticised for its methods and links to corruption, as reported by Al Jazeera in February 2012.[575]

In the West, some commentators noted similarities between the South Korean Ministry of Culture's support of the Korean Wave and the CIA's involvement in the Cultural Cold War with the former Soviet Union. According to The Quietus magazine, suspicion of hallyu as a venture sponsored by the South Korean government to strengthen its political influence bears "a whiff of the old Victorian fear of Yellow Peril".[576]

In 2018, Japanese fans criticized Jimin of BTS for donning a t-shirt depicting nuclear explosion over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. BTS was scheduled to appear on TV Asahi which was later cancelled.[577]

The South Korean entertainment industry has been faced with claims of mistreatment towards its musical artists. This issue came to a head when popular boy group TVXQ brought their management company to court over allegations of mistreatment. The artists claimed they had not been paid what they were owed and that their 13-year contracts were far too long. While the court did rule in their favor, allegations of mistreatment of artists are still rampant.[578][579][580][581]

During an episode of MBC TV reality show 'I live Alone' that was aired in July 2020, Hwasa of Mamamoo was accused of culturally appropriating Nigerian Buba, although MBC officials clarified that the clothing style originated from Korean sauna with no relation to the ethnic clothing wore by African communities.[582][583]

On World Tour 'ODE TO YOU', members of Seventeen were accused of singing Curry song of Norazo while visiting an Indian restaurants at San Jose, California. Only Jo bin of Norazo came forward to issue an apology after the incident.[584] For South Asian ethnic groups it became part of culturally-rooted racism which they are facing for many decades in global pop culture.[585]

Oh My Girl was accused of mixing and appropriating multiple cultures; from accessories of Hindu customs such as bindi and matha patti on 2020–2021 KCON:TACT to Indian and Southeast Asian background music with Middle-eastern dance form in Windy Days from 2016 released Pink Ocean.[586]

In July 2020, Sunmi faced backlash in a TikTok video for misrepresenting Indian classical dance with hand gestures and head bobble movements using Bhangra song Tunak Tunak Tun as background music.[587] Sunmi later issued an apology and deleted the video.[588]

Actor Ji Chang-wook and Eum Moon Suk mired in controversy after uploading a video on social media wearing dreadlocks and performing comical dance. People from Black community found it racially offensive and insensitive. Professor of Sociology Yoon In-jin from Korea University said, “acceptance of multiculturalism and cultural sensitivity levels of many Koreans are very low. We have lived as monoethnic people and in monoethnic culture for a long time, so we lack in understanding and respecting other cultures. We are insensitive as to how our actions can be seen by others. On the other hand, we react angrily if foreigners belittle Korean culture or people.” To prevent these controversies, many agencies are educating artists about racial and gender discrimination. They are also banned from giving personal opinions on political, social and historical matters. Agencies who are managing bigger K-pop idols started creating manuals for artists on cultural taboos and politically sensitive topics before going for world tours.[589]

On 1 September 2021, a billboard of Jungkook was taken down in Gujranwala, Pakistan under the request of assembly candidate Furqan Aziz Butt from Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan due to complaints from local residents As per Furqan Aziz Butt, BTS promotes homosexuality among youngsters, also the BTS fandom called ARMY is in conflict with the name Pakistan Army.[590]

In 2021, Turkey increased the scrutiny of Hallyu especially Kpop and Kdrama due to their negative influence on Turkish youth. Ministry of Family and Social Services started investigation after incidents of underaged girls trying to run away from home to South Korea came to notice. Some conservative officials are also accusing Kpop stars as threat towards traditional Turkish values due to their open LGBTQ+ support.[591]

In recent times, controversies with regard to racism and cultural appropriation became a big issue in K-pop. From disparages of Black community to wrongly placing Hindu cultural symbols which led to subsequent protests from the respective communities. Due to increasing fans abroad and rising K-pop exports, Korean agencies now started taking cultural nuances seriously.[206][592][593]

Make a Wish music video from NCT 2020 Resonance by NCT-U was criticized for using a set styled after Imam Husayn Shrine, wearing turbans and using mudras.[594]

With growing popularity and recognition of Korean Pop Music, there is an emerging trend of increasing backlash in Bangladesh from conservative section of the society.[595] K-Pop artists and fans are targeted due to fear of promoting liberal or atheistic values and LGBT movements in the country.[596][597] One anonymous hacktivist group called Team Copyright targeted BTS official Twitter handle for their open LGBTQ+ support and questioning the current masculinity standards by misusing loopholes of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).[598] The group claims the reason behind it's actions is to maintain the purity of Islamic culture.[599][600]

On 23 November 2021, RBW and Purple Kiss apologized for display of Nazi symbols during promotional photos for holiday season merchandise package.[601] In the same year, Sowon of GFriend and Source Music also apologized for posting pictures on social media with Nazi mannequin.[602]

On 12 December 2021, Starship Entertainment and their girl group Ive were criticized for mocking Indian classical dance Bharatanatyam. But Indian fan community were divided on the accusation. After 24 hours Starship Entertainment apologized and made changes on Ive performance for the song Eleven.[603]

With globalization of Korean wave, colorism became bone of contention between domestic and foreign fans. Korean content such as Single's Inferno faced backlash for pushing pale skin preference. As per academics, colorism may not be a problem in South Korea due to its monoethnic background, but viewed negatively in highly diverse markets such as Southeast Asia, India and the United States. With South Korea planning to issue Hallyu visa for foreigners, Korean academicians started discussing colorism and diversity that can affect future of Korean wave.[604][605]

See alsoEdit


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